Fourth Grade Students Experience Disabilities Awareness Day
Fourth grade students in Bloomfield Hills Schools participated in the annual Disability Awareness Workshop. This hands-on activity based workshop traveled to each elementary building in the district to help children become more aware of disabilities. The main emphasis was to gain an empathetic understanding of how difficult and complex daily living can be for individuals with disabilities.
Ten unique stations were set up and groups of students rotated from station to station. Teachers, BHHS National Honor Society students, and parent volunteers were at each station to help the students understand the activity and how it related to a disability. The students participated in a wheelchair obstacle course and experienced other adaptive equipment, such as prosthetics. They tested eyeglasses that gave them momentary vision impairments including color blindness and glaucoma. Students attempted to speak with an electric larynx. They participated in learning differences activities by completing math problems with reversed numbers (dyslexia) and completing a dot-to-dot in a mirror (dysgraphia). At West Hills, students in the special education program kicked off the activities by performing two songs which hyped up the fourth graders. Sheri Bialk, fourth grade teacher at West Hills commented, “This is wonderful for the children, it teaches them about empathy and learning about people with disabilities.”
The program strives for students to remember that people should be respected no matter how they may look, act, learn, walk, or talk. A lesson learned is that no one with a disability wants to have someone feel sorry for them. Students must realize that people with a disability have abilities, too and they must focus on those abilities and not on limitations. People are all different in very special ways.