Coloring Book Teaches Respect for Disabled People

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - A new coloring book aims to teach children that people living with disabilities deserve respect and dignity, too.

The coloring book, entitled "The Amazing Colors Within," was created by the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, Ill. The announcement heralding the book's debut comes in the same week that Terri Schiavo, a severely disabled woman, is expected to die by court order in her Florida hospice.

According to the Marianjoy hospital, the coloring book tells the story of a young boy's first encounter with a child in a wheelchair. Throughout the coloring book, the boy learns what it means to have a disability; and he realizes that he and the disabled child can do many of the same things.

"The story helps emphasize the importance of recognizing individuality, celebrating differences and not allowing physical appearances to overshadow an individual's abilities," the Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital said in a press release.

"Children's attitudes and biases are formed very early in their lives which is why it's important that a topic such as this be addressed with the very young," said Dr. Mary Keen, who directs the pediatric program at Marianjoy and co- authored the coloring book.

"Children need to be taught that all of us, regardless of our abilities or disabilities, have something to offer to the world and that looking beyond physical appearances helps us to realize that we have more in common than we may have first realized. It's a good lesson for children and adults as well," Keen added.

Marianjoy said it treats people with disabilities stemming from injury, illness, surgery or birth defects.

Its mission includes advocacy for the disabled; and "promoting awareness, respect, and dignity for individuals as they continue to pursue a lifestyle of their choosing."

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