Cobourg students learn about rare syndrome

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Mar 26, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe
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Two pet rats visit school

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COBOURG — The story of two pet rats helped Cobourg students learn how to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

Manotick residents Nathalie Wendling and her son Tommy Glatzmayer, 9, wrote a children’s book titled ‘Melanie and Tommy Have Two Pet Rats and One Syndrome’. Tommy and his sister Melanie, 11, presented the book to students at St. Joseph Elementary School in Cobourg on Feb. 17. Tommy has made many presentations and media appearances since creating the book when he was only six years old, said Ms. Wendling.

Melanie has a rare syndrome called Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, she said. There are 100 known cases of the developmental disorder in Canada. Melanie has had 13 operations, has many developmental delays, hearing problems, vision problems, eating difficulties and speech delays, said Ms. Wendling.

In Grade 1, Tommy came home crying because his sister was getting teased, she said. He wanted to educate his friends about his sister’s syndrome while still entertaining them. Ms. Wendling and her husband John Glatzmayer decided to self-publish the book. The family visited the Cobourg school with the book because Tommy’s hockey team was in Cobourg for a tournament.

The book focuses on the adventures of the two pet rats and explains Melanie’s syndrome, Tommy told the Cobourg students gathered in the gym. Students asked about Melanie’s syndrome and Tommy said she cannot talk or see well. The book helped Tommy’s classmates learn more, he said.

“Everybody stopped making fun of Melanie,” he said.

Tommy read excerpts from the book, showed a video of the rats in action and Melanie and Tommy’s rats did a race at the end of the presentation. Ms. Wendling said she didn’t like rats at first but her husband had them as pets growing up.

The message Tommy ends every presentation with is, “If you see someone different, smile and say hi.”

For more information on Melanie and Tommy Have Two Pet Rats and One Syndrome, visit the website at www.2petrats.com.

The book has sold more than 6,000 copies and Tommy and Melanie have done presentations in Ottawa, Kemptville, Orillia, Orleans, Kanata, Oakville, and Toronto, said Ms. Wendling. They have had numerous book signings in Ottawa, Toronto and even the U.S.

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Article source: http://www.northumberlandnews.com/news/article/1304365--cobourg-students-learn-about-rare-syndrome

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