National Inclusive Schools Week won’t happen till December 4-8, 2006. But I couldn’t help sharing a couple of examples that have come from these celebrations, in the past.
By: Brian Lang, sixth grade
Pine Grove Middle School
I think inclusive schools are important to both, kids with disabilities, and without disabilities. Diversity is vital to the student body. As students work together with all kinds of kids they get to understand them better. We learn not to judge people by their abilities or looks but by their personalities. We also learn about the challenges that people [with] disabilities have to face everyday. Because I know people with disabilities, when I see a disabled person out in public I see a person, not a wheelchair. I don’t stare, he or she is not that different from me.
Why is it important for kids with disabilities to go to a regular school? Because they are regular kids! They need to be with kids their own age and be part of the regular world. They should be able to go to the school in their community with the kids in their neighborhood.
Public schools should offer whatever is necessary to give each kid the same quality education. I have friends at my school with disabilities and I am glad they go to my school.
In my eyes I think any person I look at, disability or not, is just a normal human being.
Brian’s essay won first prize for the ARC of Maryland’s 2002 essay contest, which involved all middle schools in the state. The contest theme was “Together We’re Better.” Students wrote essays that explained why inclusive schools are so important and how students with disabilities contribute to their communities in a positive way. Winners were honored at a special legislative reception.
I’m in a Wheelchair
Treyanna Palmasano, 4th Grade
Ute V. Perkins Elementary School
It’s the first day of school and I’m scared. It’s icy cold and the wind is blowing. I’m in a wheelchair. I don’t want anyone to make fun of me. I have to check in to the office. Mrs. Leavitt, the school principal, called the 4th grade teacher and she sent Shaine to the office to help me find my way around the school.
Shaine pushed me to the 4th grade room and introduced me to the students. At lunch time Shaine carried my lunch and she pushed me to the table with her friend. After lunch we went to recess. Outside the kids took turns pushing me realy fast. It was scary, I trembild with fright, but it was fun to be included. We laughed alot and we enjoyed playing together.
“I’m home.” I shouted at mamas. I come crashing through the door in my wheelchair. “Guess what?” I hollered. “My first day at school was not scar as I thought it would be. I made lots of friends and I have a best friend named Shaine. All the students made me feel welcome. It was G-R-E-A-T.”
Ute V. Perkins Elementary School in Moapa, NV, held a number of activities as part of the 2004 National Inclusive Schools Week, including an essay contest for 4th and 5th graders on the value of respect and the importance of accepting each others’ differences.