Understanding Our Differences needs you!
March 30, 2015
Understanding Our Differences is a non-profit organization that works in partnership with the Newton Public Schools for over 35 years to teach elementary school children an understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities in our schools and in our community. The Understanding Our Differences Physical Disabilities unit will take place in your child’s classroom on April 2, 2015, and we invite you to join us in the classroom.
The class will learn about the causes of various physical disabilities. Students will explore barriers that people with physical disabilities encounter in our society: architectural and attitudinal. Architectural barriers are those that can be seen and touched, like stairs or a door that is heavy and too difficult to open. Attitudinal barriers are those that can be heard and felt, such as when a person assumes someone who uses a wheelchair can’t drive or play basketball, so he or she is not invited to join. Students will learn that universal design strives to eliminate barriers, and will see the video, Kids Just Want to Have Fun, which illustrates a barrier free playground designed so that everyone can be included.
They will participate in a variety of hands-on activities with adaptive equipment and assistive technologies that enhance independence and participation.
For many students, the high point of each unit is the speakers who share their personal experiences and answer the students’ thoughtful questions about living with a disability.
There are several themes central to this unit:
ï Universal design strives to create a world that fits everyone whether you are elderly, a mother pushing a stroller, or a person who uses a wheelchair or crutches for mobility.
ï Assistive technology helps to level the playing field for people with disabilities in school, at work, while playing sports, or just getting around the neighborhood.
ï Some people with disabilities will take extra time to complete a task or will perform it in a different way.
ï Communication helps prevent isolation and brings people together so that they are better able to share experiences.
ï Learning to ask for help or wanting to offer assistance can be difficult and can bring up uncomfortable feelings. This is true for both people with disabilities and people without disabilities.
ï It is natural to feel uncertain how to interact with someone who has a disability.
The Understanding Our Differences program is presented by parent volunteers. Many parents find the experience of helping to implement the program to be very rewarding. Please contact Deanna Salemme at email@example.com or 617-877-7576 if you would like to join the volunteer team or if you have any questions or concerns.
Jenni Acosta, Program Director
Understanding Our Differences
cc: Maura McLaughlin Tynes, M.Ed, C.A.G.S