Special Right Learning Series: Building awareness from the very start by Mona Webber

It is essential that educators promote to our students that anything is possible. That no matter what someone else’s circumstances might be, students can begin to learn how differences make us unique. The special rights learning provides a way to bring awareness about diversity that the children may encounter in their environment, whether it is at school or their outside world.  Brining in diverse guests from the community into the classroom, there are so many ways to provide for this opportunity to learn about someone else’s life and story.

Children can learn about hearing loss and impairment and devices used to support hearing. They can discover Braille and how this tactile writing system can be used by individuals with visual impairments in a variety of ways, as well how technology is providing innovative ways to assist in everyday tasks. They can learn about Downe Syndrome and how their individuality and spirit makes them some of the kindest hearted people we can ever meet.. The series can implemented with children as young as two and half years of age up through kindergarten and the children are encouraged to ask the guests any questions they would like. 

Recruiting presenters for the special rights learning series is not a challenging task. I begin by researching local organizations and sending an email with what the series is and what we are trying to promote. What I found was that individuals are so eager to promote this series that if they cannot come to the school, they will forward on your information and soon, volunteers are very much on board with visiting our school. News media outlets can also offer some ways to add to the series. Stories of different organizations are promoted on local news and I often will make note of the story and try to connect with them. As was the case with the Global Messengers from the Special Olympics organization of Chicago, where two athletes discussed their athletic achievements as well as taught the children some rhythmic gymnastics routines. I learned about the Global Messengers from a family member who is involved in the program in Los Angeles and found one close by. 

The special rights learning series has evolved over the years. During the first year, we had two guests and now we have at least six. The special rights learning series can be a powerful and impactful opportunity for both the students as well as for the teachers. It creates a foundation for teaching young children about similarities and differences in one another

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