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.”