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Disability History and Awareness Month

Observed each October in Missouri, Disability History and Awareness Month is a great time to emphasize the fact that all people have abilities to be celebrated.

At SSD’s Northview High School, students and staff mark the month with “buddy rooms.”

“We celebrate each others’ differences by pairing up with another classroom and doing various activities such as reading, cooking with each other, art activities and attending our school dance together,” said Northview teacher Rebecca Helms.

Helms said that this allows students to collaborate with one another, to be included and to form friendships. “It also allows some students to embrace the leader role and gives them a sense of well-being,” she said.

At SSD’s Ackerman School, a Unity Day is held in October to bring staff and students together as a school community. Middle school students do much of the planning for the school’s Unity Day.

“We’ve established a tradition for Unity Day – our unity chain,” said Ackerman teacher Margery Doss. “Students of differing abilities partner to create paper chains. Each link has one character trait or talent for each individual written or drawn on a link.”

Afterwards, students from each classroom bring their chains to the gym to link them together with other classroom chains to symbolize how the school comes together against bullying. There’s also a school dance.

“For the last two years the students have worked with art teacher Jason Betancourt, who’s also a disc jockey, to choose the music with anti-bullying, positive self-esteem lyrics,” said Doss. “During the weeks leading up to the dance, students decorate school hallways with posters highlighting strategies to stop bullying and to help with social skills.”

SSD’s Parent Education and Diversity Awareness program offers many resources for ability awareness programs, such as lists of recommended speakers, resource packets on how to start and support an awareness program, and a long list of books and DVDs that are available to check out. Click here to view the list of resources.

Published October 2018

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Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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