Child Development students wear empathy belly

Exercise provides pregnancy simulation


Connor Letts

Angie Verstraete, FACS teacher, assists a student in fitting the empathy belly.

Emma Collins, Reporter

For the Child Development class taught by Angi Verstraete, FACS teacher, the students had to wear a pregnant belly-simulator as an empathy exercise. The simulation took place third quarter and lasted about a week and a half.

During the assignment, the students are given a taste of what it’s like to be eight months pregnant. Four students go out at a time; two are wearing the belly and then each one has a partner.

Because it weighs about 30 pounds, the students tend to lose their center of gravity, making it harder to do things. They wear it for 20 minutes at a time, and during the 20 minutes, the students and their partners walk around the school and do different tasks.

These tasks usually include walking, trying to pick something up from the ground, sitting on a couch and trying to get back up. Verstraete also wanted the students to get a feel for what it looks like to be pregnant, so she encouraged students to look at themselves in the mirror and see what they look like compared to what they look like without the belly.

“It was fun to see people’s reactions when they saw that I was pregnant,” Kennedy Truitt, sophomore, said.

Although they have the freedom of the school, students have to follow rules that they are graded on. No running, jumping, heavy lifting and bending of the knees are a few of them. Other teachers in the school are used as the outside eyes of Verstraete because she has to stay in the room with the other students.

The partners are not allowed to leave the students wearing the belly just in case they start to feel faint and they need to take off the equipment. Beforehand the partners are taught how to take the equipment off properly.

The rules are used as safety measures just in case something was to happen during that time. The safe return of the belly with no damage earns 30 points overall.

“I want students to mostly get empathy out of this for women who are eight months pregnant, the male students mostly because they don’t have to go through pregnancy,” Verstraete said.

After the simulation, the students are given a reflection sheet that is worth 40 points, asking how they felt about the whole thing. Most of the girl students said that they want to wait to get pregnant while the male students usually show more sympathy towards what women have to go through during a pregnancy.