Disability dialogue: Rosedell Elementary holds 3rd annual Inclusion Week

Second-graders watch a video on autism as part of Inclusion Week at Rosedell Elementary School in Saugus on Thursday, September 26, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Rosedell Elementary students are learning lessons inside and outside the classroom for Inclusion Week, a few days set aside each year for the impressionable minds of students to be taught and absorb information regarding disabilities and accepting differences.

Event organizers hope this weeklong educational program might lead to a better world, according to one of the parents who helped organize it.

“The kids are getting into understanding what inclusion means,” said Rachel Villanueva, executive vice president of Rosedell’s PTA, “how kindness, acceptance and empathy all matter at this school.”

Volunteer Laurel Hickcox, right, whispers an activity to second-grader Jasper Mann who will try to convey it to his classmates with a marshmallow in his mouth as a fun learning exercise during of Inclusion Week at Rosedell Elementary School in Saugus on Thursday, September 26, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Starting on Monday, first- through sixth-grade students had an assembly on kindness, while TK and kindergarten students had a book read to them by their teachers on Tuesday named “My Authentic, Terrific, Awe-Tistic Sister.”

And then over the next three days, each class took one trip to the multipurpose room for a variety of activities, all dealing with inclusion.

“Some of the activities include drawing with your nondominant hand to show fine motor skills,” said Villanueva. “And there’s also a speech center where they have a marshmallow in their mouth so it’s harder for people to understand them, which gives them an understanding of how it is for people with speech issues.”

Second-grader Sadie Villanueva copies a drawing with her left hand as a fun learning exercise during of Inclusion Week at Rosedell Elementary School in Saugus on Thursday, September 26, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

And before the kids participated in their fun activity of stuffing marshmallows in their mouths or drawing race cars, an adult read a short blurb on what the students should be taking away from it.

Other activities included kids learning through age-appropriate videos about autism and certain disabilities and why a child has an aid, or wants to talk about one thing only or claps their hands in class and on the playground. They also learned how to help one another if they see someone struggling.

“We want them to understand kindness, and that everyone wants love, friends and to please the teacher,” said Villaneuva. “That’s why we do it: so understanding is happening at the school.”

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