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Morse’s First Disability Awareness Day

Morse’s First Disability Awareness Day
Posted on 11/18/2015
Written By; Christina Gavin, Inclusive Instructional Specialist

disability awarenessMorse School hosted its first Disability Awareness Day on October 22nd. In collaboration with Morse school council, staff, parents, and community partners, the day was filled with events for students, teachers and families to raise awareness and get involved.

One of the day’s themes was “respecting differences”. Throughout the day, students participated in activities to gain perspective about various types of disabilities and learning challenges. Fifth graders learned about dyslexia as they read scrambled text and rewrote sentences with their non-dominant hand. Julia Bishop shared one of her take- aways from this activity, “Think about how exhausting this would feel to do all day long at school.” Shannon Driscoll and Sarah Kelly, friends of special educator Mil Crowley, also spoke to 5th graders about their experience with Down Syndrome. (Shannon and Sarah also like to call it “Up Syndrome”.)

In the morning, parents gathered to watch the award-winning documentary, Including Samuel. The video shows one family’s efforts to achieve equal access and opportunities for their son to be educated with his non-disabled peers.

In the lobby, stations were set up to simulate what it feels like to have a physical disability or sensory impairment. Students tackled zippers and snaps wearing gloves or mittens, to simulate fine motor challenges. Some students tried putting together a puzzle wearing a blindfold, or writing in Braille. Students also wore headphones to experience what it feels like to be deaf or hard of hearing. Teachers got into the action as well. At the mobility station, fourth grade teacher Mary Gallant got on the equipment which challenges strength, balance, and movement. “I had to do this with my Physical Therapist when I tore my hamstring,” Mary said.

A few parents helped out at the sensory stations, and took photos and videos throughout the day.

Disability Awareness DayMusic teacher Kelly Graeber displayed an interactive bulletin board featuring Dr. Suess’s quote, “Why fit in, when you were born to stand out?” The peacock, a unique bird with its one-of-a-kind feathers, serves as a symbol for students to consider their individual and unique identities. By lifting the feathers of the peacock, students could read about many famous and successful musicians, who also happen to have a disability.

The day’s theme fit in nicely with Morse’s Core Virtue of the month, Respect.

One of the highlights of the day was when students interviewed staff about overcoming challenges at the afternoon Respect Assembly. Kerri Tabasky, guest speaker and community partner, spoke to students about person first language, and made connections to figures in pop culture, academic, sports, and historical figures who each struggled to overcome a disability.

At the close of the day, Principal Pat Beggy asked some students to share one thing they learned. One student said she realized that having a disability, “..does not take away from who you are.”