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Easter Seals Offers Free Disability Awareness Curriculum for Educators

  • Published: 2009-08-03 (Revised/Updated 2009-08-31) : Author: Easter Seals
  • Synopsis: Elementary school educators free teaching tool to help young students learn about children and adults with disabilities.

Main Document

Elementary school educators now have a free teaching tool to help their young students learn about children and adults with disabilities. There is still a critical need to build awareness and change attitudes about what it means to be a person with a disability - the best time to learn is as a young child.

Help for Teachers to Make "Friends Who Care" in their Classrooms

Elementary school educators now have a free teaching tool to help their young students learn about children and adults with disabilities. There is still a critical need to build awareness and change attitudes about what it means to be a person with a disability - the best time to learn is as a young child.

Easter Seals, the country's leading non-profit provider of disability services, has launched an online version of its award-winning disability awareness curriculum, FRIENDS WHO CARE.

"Easter Seals developed this resource for teachers and parents to educate children about their peers with disabilities and foster greater inclusion in our classrooms and on our playgrounds," says Patricia Wright, Ph.D., MPH, national director of autism services, Easter Seals.

FRIENDS WHO CARE is designed to help children better understand what it means and how it feels to be a young person with a disability. This hands-on educational program gives students the opportunity to learn what is involved when someone has a disability and how kids with disabilities adapt to live life, go to school, make friends and play. The goals of the program are simple: to encourage typically developing children to accept their peers with disabilities as people first, and to find ways to include everyone in school and after-school activities.

"When students gain a better appreciation of what it means to live with a disability, they are more accepting of their classmates with disabilities," adds Wright. "Our hope is that children quickly realize, 'hey, I want kids with disabilities to be my friends, too'."

The curriculum explores a range of disabilities and includes specially-crafted learning activities, hands-on exercises, guided discussions and guest guidelines. It starts with an introduction to disabilities, and looks at vision, hearing and physical disabilities and then at learning disabilities - including a section on autism, ADHD and intellectual disabilities. Parents and teachers can access and download the free, FRIENDS WHO CARE curriculum. The fun and colorful components can all be downloaded separately for use at home or in the classroom.

Originally developed in 1990 with a grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities, Easter Seals has significantly updated the FRIENDS WHO CARE curriculum with funding from its long-time partner, the Friendly Ice Cream Corporation. Friendly's has worked to support Easter Seals and its wide variety of services for children with disabilities for more than twenty-five years through the annual Cones for Kids and Easter Seals Camp Friendly fundraisers. To date the company has raised more than $25.8 million for Easter Seals.

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