Taylor Teuling used an orange prop to demonstrate to fellow classmates how multiple schlerosis affects the spinal cord. Normandeau School students responded with bake sales and a toonie drive to raise funds for the MS Society. (Photo contributed)

Red Deer mom’s illness leads to students fundraising for MS

Son’s project explains illness to classmates

When Taylor Teuling was being asked a lot of questions by fellow students about his mom’s health, he wasn’t quite sure how to handle it.

Until recently, Jodi McCutcheon-Teuling was a regular Grade 6 volunteer at Normandeau School in Red Deer attended by her son, 12-year-old Taylor. But she had been having serious health issues, and students were asking Taylor “Where’s your mom? Why isn’t Miss Jodi coming anymore?” Jodi said Friday.

McCutcheon-Teuling, 32, is in the process of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her symptoms and medical testing is pointing in that direction. She was in hospital about three months ago after she was unable to walk. She is able to walk now “but it’s day to day.”

Taylor told his mother that he just didn’t know how to respond to questions about her illness, and it was a little overwhelming. So his mother asked him if he would like to just tell everybody at one time, rather than answering question after question at recess about her being home sick.

They talked to the school counsellor, which led Taylor to work on a special project to explain multiple sclerosis to other students in a presentation. “That way all of the questions were out there and it was explained to everyone at the same time,” Jodi said.

She attended the presentation with him to help answer any questions. “It was just a more positive way for to deal with it, than him spending his recess worrying about me being at home.”

The very first question that was asked by a student after Taylor was done giving the presentation was: “Can we do a fundraiser?” Both Grade 6 classes then jumped on board. “They wanted to go big or go home,” she said but their teachers had to remind them there were tests soon and they only had three weeks of classes left. So they decided to have a toonie drive and two bake sales at school this past week.

As of Friday morning the students had raised $700, which is being donated to the MS Society.

barr@reddeeradvocate.com

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