It can be hard for elementary school kids to fully understand what it’s like to live with a disability — let alone experience it themselves. But that’s what Central Elementary School children tried to do through the Mamaroneck School District’s annual Building Bridges program.
With the help of parent volunteers and guest speakers with different abilities, children in every classroom participated in demonstrations and activities to help them grasp the challenges and rewards that come to people with different abilities.
A vision-impaired woman (with a very appealing guide dog), a gold medal-winning Paralympic athlete and a panel of Mamaroneck High kids who have successfully overcome learning disabilities were among the visitors.
Younger students learned about sensory disabilities, like vision and hearing impairment. First-graders were blindfolded and read their names in Braille. Second-graders were treated to a sonic boom alarm clock, practiced lip reading and learned some basic American Sign Language.
Third-graders studied Autism and Downs Syndrome, while fourth-graders learned about life in a wheelchair. Fifth graders focused on learning disabilities, like dyslexia.
Organizers say the program is designed to help kids grasp differences — yet highlight the ways in which people are the same. As one second-grader said, “Everybody likes to have a friend.”
— Article and photo submitted by Laura Jofre