PALERMO – Palermo Elementary School students learned a valuable lesson from guest presenter Dennis Pullen: we all can be different and the same.
Noticeable differences with Pullen and the students in grades kindergarten through four included his wheelchair, breathing device and lack of mobility.
But, similarities far outweighed those three.
Pullen and the children alike enjoyed ice cream, movies, going on vacation, being outside and painting, among many other activities.
Because of his lack of mobility, Pullen completes daily tasks with his mouth.
He began painting when he was 19, 11 years after he was hit by a car in a white-out and his life forever changed.
Pullen learned some daily tasks all over again while immobile and struggled with the curveball life provided him.
However, with much perseverance and persistence he has transformed into an independent, art-loving person.
“I don’t let anything stop me,” he said.
Students were encouraged to not let anything stop them, either.
Under the direction of Pullen, they had one student dip a Q-tip into a paint color and they put the clean end in their partner’s mouth so the partner could attempt to paint like Pullen.
They struggled through the difficult task, but Pullen said he struggled until he perfected his craft.
While his paintings may take months to complete, several have been New York State Fair award winners.
The presentation, held in the school art room, was also brought to New Haven Elementary School as a Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation Arts-in-Education program.