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Ventura County Star
By Andrea Barkan, Correspondent
October 21, 2006  

Educational game called Call Me CAPABLE encourages empathy

Call Me Capable Game - Available since 2002 Oxnard native Carol Leish developed a board game that plays with stereotypes and encourages empathy.

"Call Me Capable" breaks barriers to disability awareness with simple, surprising questions such as "Imagine being stared at because one of your eyes wanders. What is your reaction?"

The game, first published four years ago by Franklin Learning Systems, is featured in this month's issue of "Teacher Magazine." It targets children in the third through ninth grades.

"It teaches people without disabilities how to be more empathetic and caring toward people with disabilities," Leish, 44, said. "And it eradicates some of the stereotypes out there."

The seed for "Call Me Capable" sprouted in Leish's mind more than 20 years ago, when she was a graduate student at California State University, San Bernardino.

Leish, whose vision and speech were impaired in a car accident when she was 10 months old, often got angry when fellow college students made assumptions about her disabilities.

"They talked loudly or slowly or just ignored me," she said. "Sometimes they'd think my intellect was affected, too."

When a professor spoke about "The Talking, Feeling and Doing Game," by Richard A. Gardner, the concept for "Call Me Capable" was born in Leish's imagination.

The game's open-ended questions, grouped by "Emotion," "Imagination" and "Experience," took Leish years to create.

"Some of them deal with personal experience," Leish said recently in her Oxnard home.

"This is one I can definitely relate to, unfortunately," she said, pulling out an "Imagination" card. The card reads, "Imagine you have a disability and someone asks, ‘What is wrong with you?' What would you say?"

A fourth set of "Challenge" cards introduces factual information about disabilities in true, false or multiple choice quiz format.

After Leish's long creative process, she faced a five-year search for her publisher.

"I'm persistent," Leish said. Indeed, she's made an art of "continuing to hustle with chutzpah." That favorite phrase of Leish's could be the title of the her autobiography; She aspires to someday write a book.

Leish is a motivational speaker who shares her story with area schools, nonprofits and government agencies.

She said using humor and a positive attitude are key to illustrating how anyone can emphasize "capabilities instead of disabilities."

Through her game and lectures, Leish hopes to help people realize "We're more similar than different."

For more information, contact Carol Leish at (805) 988-6160 or

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