School sets sight on in­clu­sion

Rosedell El­e­men­tary stu­dents get op­por­tu­nity to learn new per­spec­tive

The Signal - - Front page - By Bren­non Dix­son Sig­nal Staff Writer

Rosedell El­e­men­tary School’s In­clu­sion Week of­fered nearly all of the school’s stu­dents a unique op­por­tu­nity to learn from the per­spec­tive of some­body with men­tal or phys­i­cal im­pair­ments.

Spear­headed by par­ent Rachel Vil­lanueva, every class in the school par­tic­i­pated in this week’s pro­gram, which fea­tured ac­tiv­i­ties that sim­u­lated the dif­fer­ent phys­i­cal and men­tal im­pair­ments that some lo­cal stu­dents may pos­sess, As­sis­tant Prin­ci­pal Lisa Loscos said.

The web­site geon.github.io al­lowed the chil­dren to see with their own eyes just how hard it can be to read with dys­lexia or learn in the face of class­room dis­trac­tions, which prompted stu­dents to say

they’ll think twice about their ac­tions next time they’re in class.

The third-grade stu­dents in Prit Ch­habra’s class said it’s hard to imag­ine how some schol­ars are able to per­se­vere with con­di­tions that limit their senses, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that some peo­ple might have two or more im­pair­ments.

The sixth-grade stu­dents of Becky Mas­trobuono’s class agreed with the third-graders’ sentiments, and Vil­lanueva in­vited par­ents to find sim­i­lar ac­tiv­i­ties that’d al­low them to see

through the eyes of their child at Un­der­stood.org.

Typ­i­cally, learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties af­fect 7 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, but a lot of peo­ple aren’t di­ag­nosed so they cope with it or sim­ply don’t know they have it yet, school of­fi­cials said. This is why ac­tiv­i­ties like Fri­day’s are cru­cial to have on-cam­pus.

“Not only does it pro­vide the per­spec­tive that we are all the same,” Vil­lanueva said, but it also al­lows the kids to have a dis­cus­sion in class or at home with par­ents and friends, which is what makes the pro­gram such a suc­cess.

In fact, some of the ac­tiv­i­ties were so help­ful to stu­dents that the school is con­sid­er­ing im­ple­ment­ing one of the pro­jects per­ma­nently on-cam­pus, Loscos said.

The sen­sory path­way sta­tion was one of the more pop­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties on Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to the par­tic­i­pat­ing stu­dents. De­scribed as a mod­i­fied hop­scotch path, the sen­sory path­way walk al­lows stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties a way to calm down when they are feel­ing anx­ious or over­whelmed in class.

It’s cru­cial to have dif­fer­ent tex­tures and ac­tions — like wig­gling, jump­ing or stretch­ing — through­out the path be­cause a stu­dent might find a cer­tain ges­ture or tex­ture to be too much for them, Vil­lanueva said. “It’s also im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that the stu­dents don’t have the same re­sponses as us,” mean­ing some stu­dents might think of an item that is hot and soft as cold and hard — a fact that stu­dents learned at an­other sta­tion.

Par­ent Brid­get Fryer, an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist, was on hand over­see­ing the slime bin, which al­lowed stu­dents to dis­cover the dif­fi­cul­ties that some of their friends may have with dif­fer­ent tac­tile functions.

The chil­dren yelled in amaze­ment as they dug through buck­ets of rice and home­made slime try­ing to find ev­ery­day ob­jects like le­gos and pa­per clips to no avail.

Dur­ing the event, Vil­lanueva told the story of her friend “Po the Po­tato,” and the qual­i­ties that make him unique and sim­i­lar to every other po­tato.

“Just be­cause oth­ers look dif­fer­ent, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t or can’t in­clude them and get to know them,” Vil­lanueva said. “It’s all about mak­ing (stu­dents) aware of that sim­ple fact.”

Bren­non Dix­son/The Sig­nal

Par­ent Brid­get Fryer, an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist, di­rects sixth-graders Ha­ley Stur­man and Dan­nia Cornejo to close their eyes and find house­hold ob­jects on Fri­day.

Bren­non Dix­son/The Sig­nal

Third-graders Hunter Stur­man and Gavin Hill walk and wig­gle through a sen­sory path­way sta­tion on Fri­day.

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