A special experience
By JOSEPH TERNOWETSKY
AS Joshua Semfel and Aaron Kelly walk into a chicken cage their eyes light up.
They are dazzled by the little birds charging about, fluttering their wings, and squawking like mad.
Joshua, 14, and Aaron, 15, are both intellectually impaired and have been helping at the Rockhampton Zoo now for about five weeks. In that short time the two, who are generally quite shy, have come out of their shells.
Now they can't stop talking about the interactive experiences they had during the day.
"I like walking the dingos,'' said Aaron who suffers from epilepsy.
And Joshua loves all birds.
"I pet the emus, it's lots of fun.''
The two Rockhampton State High School special education students have been going to the zoo as a way of getting them ready for the workforce.
They go once a week and do chores such as raking, painting and some animal care.
This contact with animals has already improved their social and learning skills, said teacher's aide Aaron Cooper.
"They can later apply these experiences to classroom work,'' he said.
Doing projects such as writing stories about their day at the zoo or talking about what they saw are improving their skills and moods.