Mission: To create a more tolerant and empathetic learning environment for all students attending schools in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.
How we do it: Through interactive hands-on curriculum aimed at each age group students are allowed to feel the challenges and frustrations that they and others encounter during their school days. Experiencing these challenges both physically and emotionally highlights the coping mechanisms that one may create to get through an ordinary task. Acknowledging that all people have areas of expertise and areas of challenge helps create a safer social environment.
The goal of this program is to teach students that everyone learns in different ways AND that all things don't come easily. The lessons provide students and staff with opportunities to see that each of us do, and grasp, some things well and other things are hard or challenging for us. The perception of young people that “everyone gets this but me” or “everyone can do this but me” is a dangerous falsehood that leads to self-esteem issues or worse as children age. The Ability Awareness Program attempts to mitigate these factors. By showing students early on that it is all right to be challenged by something and that to not be able to master everything happens to everyone at some point, we can create a more empathetic learning environment for everyone.
The program is meant to be fun, attention-getting and presented with lots of energy. It is not intended to be an educational program to teach students about specific diagnoses. The message is that we are all different in some ways, but we all have the same needs for respect, acceptance, inclusion and friends. The intent of this program is to inspire education of all children that it is OK to be different and to encourage every school to present an Ability Awareness Program.
A message that can’t be too strongly delivered is that Ability Awareness is YOUR PROGRAM – make it as comprehensive as your school site desires. Is there a particular lesson, Supportive Activity or opportunity to excel that speaks to your school community’s need? Then go for it: Be enlightened, be educated -- be awesome!