Youth with disabilities are more like us than different. We all want other people to understand us. In this lesson, youth learn about needs of differently abled children in their school or community and take a step toward removing barriers. They raise awareness of ways to understand and show respect for people with disabilities through a service project.
The learners will...
- use language that shows respect for people with different abilities than themselves.
- take action to raise awareness and understanding on disabilities.
- take action to remove a barrier at their school or in the community.
video on YouTube "Just Like You: Down Syndrome"
If you have invited an expert to speak to the class, have them share stories and information about the abilities and challenges of the people they serve.
If you don't have a guest speaker, show pictures of famous people with a variety of disabilities, such as Stephen Hawking, Helen Keller, and FDR, as well as non-famous people. Talk about their contributions to society. Show the video "Just Like You" linked above. Ask, "When you hear the term 'person with a disability' what do you think of?"
Define disability and make clear that it does not mean a person “can’t do something/anything.” It means they may need accommodations or equipment (large size print, voice activated computer, appropriate space to maneuver a wheelchair, etc.) Describe how an accommodation helps them be successful.
Discuss why it is essential to treat everyone with respect. Discuss what that looks like. For example, it is respectful when talking about someone who is blind to say "a man who is blind," rather than “a blind man.” This puts the person ahead of the disability.
Discuss the following:
- We are all different. How can our differences make us better?
- Discuss this quote: "The worst thing about a disability is that people see it before they see you." - Easter Seals How can we see and get to know people first?
- How should you talk to someone with a disability that is the same as how you talk to someone without a disability? [Guide students to recognize that everyone can be treated with kindness and understanding.]
We are more alike than different, and our differences can be our super powers. Ask students to think quietly about what their super powers are. A super power can make the world a better place.
Give everyone time to write and draw themselves with a super power, or a trait that helps them do good in the world.
Together, go through the Blue Sky Activity to talk about what they can do to make their communities better. Community may be defined how you choose.
Tell the students about ways to help other people learn better and feel more cared for at school. For example, a person with autism may like to have less stimulus. A person who is deaf may appreciate if more people know American Sign Language.
Help the students plan and take action to learn more and remove a barrier or to accommodate a special need. For example, if there is a person who is deaf at the school, students can teach others American Sign Language for hand spelling the alphabet.
Longer term: Start a Best Buddies chapter at school: www.bestbuddies.org
As an exit ticket, have the students draw a picture of themselves in a group that shows differences make us stronger.
Discuss the following:
- one thing I learned today
- one thing I didn't understand
- one thing I can do to make a difference