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May 19, 2022
Touching Video Shows Teacher in Brazil Aiding Severely Disabled Boy to Partake in Obstacle Course in Gym Class
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Touching Video Shows Teacher in Brazil Aiding Severely Disabled Boy to Partake in Obstacle Course in Gym Class

A physical education teacher’s touching gesture toward a young, severely disabled student went viral after heartrending videos captured the pair completing a class obstacle course together.

Decorum cast aside, the man lifts up young Heitor, jumps rope, and hops through hoops in a moment of pure beauty.

The teacher, 26-year-old Gean Sampaio de Melo, from Londrina, Brazil, is passionate about including students who’d otherwise be excluded and is willing to “make a mess” of himself to make them smile.

Last fall, Gean went out of his way to reach out to 6-year-old Heitor, who’s lived with cerebral palsy since he was 7 days old. “He is very affectionate, has some motor impairments that are being improved with physiotherapy,” Gean told The Epoch Times in Portuguese. “I would never exclude Heitor from my classes or find it difficult to include him—to the contrary.

“Heitor chose me and accepted me on the first day of class.”

(Courtesy of Gean Sampaio de Melo)
Heitor did not usually respond well to male teachers, but Gean was different. Their classes together were always “a joy and fun,” he said.

As for the footage that went viral, the teacher shared: “I was in class, on the court, and the theme was motor coordination, and I decided to work with the rope, Heitor’s companion hired by his parents suggested that I record the classes because the scene was very beautiful. So I decided to record and post on social media.”

A clip shows Heitor in Gean’s arms as they jump rope, clear hurdles, and weave through pylons. Gean animates Heitor’s inanimate body to perform a summersault on the mat. They finish the course completing a hoop hopscotch together.

(Courtesy of Gean Sampaio de Melo)

Heitor loved the game as much as his teacher. Although he cannot speak, Gean noted his student’s positive experience. “He responds a lot with expressions and at the end of the course we can even see in the video his happiness in completing everything and feeling included,” he said.

Gean has a different philosophy than some other teachers and has a way of forging special bonds with his students, including those who often find themselves on the outside—like Heitor. “I modify some classes so that he is always included … Heitor does everything that is proposed, of course in my lap,” Gean said.

“You have to know how to reach him, convince him, because it is not every day that he arrives well because of his medication,” he added. “So I always arrive calmly, if he’s okay, I let go and I make a lot of mess to see him always happy.”

What makes Gean special as a teacher is his ability to empathize with every student. He, too, was once excluded by teachers in the past, who didn’t always understand him or help him learn.

(Courtesy of Gean Sampaio de Melo)

(Courtesy of Gean Sampaio de Melo)

“I was once a needy child who wanted to be heard and very messy, but my teachers didn’t know how to listen to me, much less understand me, so [I] decide to be the teacher I never had and make a difference in [the] life of mine,” he said.

After the video went viral, Gean found that many gravitated toward his message. He received numerous comments from moms who were touched by the moment. There were teachers who felt represented by his devotion, he said, and university students who saw him as an example to be followed.

“There’s no money to buy all this love I’m getting,” Gean said, before adding jokingly: “Heitor is famous now. He continues in classes, smiling, and giving me hope for a better world.”

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