Disability Awareness Day
Fourth grade students in Bloomfield Hills Schools participated in a hands-on activity based workshop, which travels across Oakland County. The main emphasis of this workshop is to help students become more aware and empathetic toward those with differences. The workshop’s stations are designed to give the students a brief, tangible experiences such as what it is like to live using a wheelchair, having vision impairments, having an electric larynx, dealing with reading disabilities, and more. The students rotate through 10 stations, including, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Speech Impairment, Vision Impairment, Learning Differences (Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, ADHD), Physical Impairments (Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, etc.), and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Way student Kai Hillman shares, “Braille seems so hard to learn! Also, it must be scary to walk in unfamiliar places. I would be afraid of running into things and getting hurt.” Amelia and Liliana Waineo express, “We knew the alphabet in sign language, but now we know a few words too. Seeing the pictures of the hand movements help to remember. Also, there is a microphone you can put to your throat. If you mouth the words the microphone picks up the vibrations from your throat and makes the sound for you. It was really cool!” Parent and volunteer, Eva Waineo states, “It is a well organized and impressive event. Looking around and seeing the children not only learn about the numerous disabilities but also about the equipment and different aspects that help.”
Students were provided with reflection questions after the workshop.
- What are some things you learned about experiencing different disabilities?
- What are some tools people use to make the world more accessible?
- What are some ways we can include people with disabilities in different ways in our school? In the community?
A few responses from East Hills 4th grade students:
- “People’s life is much harder.”
- “It can be lonely since you can’t communicate very easily.”
- “It was frustrating trying to move the wheelchair over bumps and getting through the bathroom door.”
- “People think differently and see things differently. I want to try to understand more.”
- “I am going to learn more about them, and maybe we can become friends.”
- “We are all kids and we like to do the same things.”
- “I want to make sure they always have someone to play with at recess.”
As an objective for 2020, the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) will have a work group dedicated to improving Disabilities Awareness Day. A few ideas that have been shared is making sure we provide students with the latest technology in equipment, invite speakers to make it more relevant and engaging, and invite participation from our students at Wing Lake.
Parent Advisory Committee Mission Statement: To ensure a full continuum of services and options to all special education students that maintains excellence and equity and that is ever respectful in providing for the unique needs of each child.
The Oakland Schools Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) represents each Local Educational Agency (LEA)/Public School Academy (PSA) within Oakland County.
Family representatives are appointed by the LEA/PSA and Oakland County School Boards. They have a child/children with a disability(ies). They attend monthly meetings during the school year held at Oakland Schools Intermediate School District. As PAC members they: attend and participate at scheduled meetings; share information and ideas with the LEA/PSA members and others; cooperate in the development and review of the Oakland County Special Education Plan; provide families opportunities to be informed of special education processes; mentor new PAC members; encourage effective partnerships between families and schools; and disseminate information about the PAC group and current issues in special education.
Utilizing special education services in any district is a journey. As children grow and develop, their needs may change as well. The PAC is there to help point you to resources, collaborate on different initiatives, and help support one another.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BloomfieldHillsPAC