Tagged with: advocate children disabilities education inclusion kids
A few months back I was asked to speak to my younger sister’s grade on disability acceptance in honor of National Circle of Friends month. The elementary school provided me with a children’s book to read and told me to discuss disability awareness and answer questions after reading the story. I spoke to four different second grade classes for around thirty minutes each. Since these were my sister’s classmates the children were familiar with me, but this was a setting dedicated to educating and answering any and all questions related to a variety of disabilities that I was knowledgeable about. I first read them the book The Handstand by Barry Rudner and then asked them how they feel when they’re excluded and ways to help others feel included since that is the theme of the book. After we discussed inclusion, I briefly went over people-first language and explained how people with disabilities prefer others to view our challenges as disABILITY rather than a DISability. I asked them to either be completely still, close their eyes or plug their ears and asked them to imagine living life like that and think of ways that they would have to adapt. I wish I could of thought of a clever way to simulate a few cognitive disabilities. The exercise was a shallow one when considering the multitude of disabilities and the enormity they may have on one’s life. I also spoke to them about differences in general and regardless of how diverse we may seem, we are all the same on the inside. Surprisingly, I held the children’s attention for a while and they seemed rather passionate about the issue for such a young age. Overall I think they learned a fair amount that day and at least were able to empathize a little better with individuals with differences.
I see quite a few of the kids at different functions for my sister and most of them go out of their way to say hi to me. Occasionally one will come up to me proud as can be to tell me how they tried to include someone recently who otherwise would have been left out. There is a noticeable difference before I spoke with them and after, not only how they interact with me, but also my sister. She will call me and tell me stories of how her friends and her cared for another classmate. Once again, I stress the importance of educating, fostering acceptance and bringing a whole other level of awareness to children about differences. I believe that educating the younger ages are the most crucial before they implement their own stereotypes and prejudices. I encourage you all to keep living an active lifestyle and being a strong role model in the community. Please take time as well to answer questions and explain to others about disabilities so we as a group can start to fill in the ignorant gaps. What are your feelings about this?
The Handstand was one of my favorite books growing up as a child.