When someone says "rap" and you think "knuckles" - your age is dating you! A rap "song" is a sing-song verse spoken with syncopated rhythm and a lot of style. The subject is usually hip or humorous, and the "raddest" rap in Salt Lake City was written by a sixth-grade class.
Utah's Teacher of the Year, Lilia Eskelsen of the Douglas T. Orchard Elementary in West Valley City, was talking one day with fellow teacher Sue Cook. Cook's husband, David Trautman, is wheelchair-bound and had a difficult time this past winter maneuvering through the ice and slush in the parking lot when the handicapped parking spot had been taken by a thoughtless able-bodied driver. Several children overheard the conversation about the difficulty and were incensed."Isn't there a law, teacher?" they asked. "Let's call the police and have the person arrested," they suggested. The children were discouraged to find that there was a law but it was difficult to enforce.
The sixth-graders couldn't quite forget about this small injustice that was causing a teacher's husband so much trouble. Were other wheelchair occupants having the same problem?
The children in Eskelsen's class are pen pals to a class of mentally and physically handicapped children at Hartvigsen School, many of whom are in wheelchairs. The letters from the sixth-graders are read by aides to the Hartvigsen students, who respond verbally and the aides write down what they say. The handicapped children reported back that their parents were also frustrated with the many times handicapped parking spaces are thoughtlessly used by the non-handicapped.
"Let's tell everyone about what's going on!" said the Orchard students, and a rap song came immediately to mind as the way to do so. Eskelsen is proud that her students came up with such a novel solution and have worked so hard to get the word out. "The kids can all say, `I did something!' They have learned how to take their opinion further than just sitting around complaining. You can get out and do something!" she said.
The savvy sixth-graders have learned a bit about marketing and the power of the press. Their rap was sent to KUTV Channel 2 and was impressive enough that the station is planning a one-minute public service commercial that will feature the rap song with Eskelsen's class and their pen pals from Hartvigsen School acting out the capture of the "offender" in the handicap parking spot.
Part of the commercial will be filmed in a parking lot with the pint-sized actors, who will need no rehearsals for their confrontation with the "rude dude" who parks where he shouldn't. A casting call has gone out for a father "who looks big, tough and mean," according to Eskelsen.
The kids found that a few words had to be dropped from the original song - like `slime' - because it was a little too strong, but the message they are sending will come through loud and clear: Don't make life rougher for the handicapped!
I'm cool, I'm rad, my van is hot
I was looking for a handicap parking spot.
I looked all over the parking lot
When I saw some punk take my handicap slot
"Take my space if you dare, and I'll run you over with my wheelchair."
Out jumped a dude
He was so rude
I said, "Better not put me in a bad mood."
I whipped my chair out of my van
And rolled over to this ugly man.
He started to give me a real bad time
I said, "You're not even worth a dime
Cause you're the one who's committing the crime,
You wimpy, worthless, walking slime."
A crowd had gathered around me and this pest
I said, "I'm making a citizen's arrest."
He said, "Who's gonna make me stay right here?"
I looked at the crowd and they began to cheer.
I knew that they were on my side
They weren't gonna let this crude dude hide.
Somebody yelled, "Get him down!"
We sat on him with his face in the ground.
We stayed right there 'till the cops arrived.
He said, "Take me away or I won't survive!"
The moral of this story,
The lesson of this rap,
Is don't park in the space for the handicap.