‘It’s 2020 and time to be inclusive of everybody’: special ed teachers plan Understanding Others Day to promote equal treatment

Jackson Elementary special ed teachers plan Understanding Others Day because, "It's 2020 and time to be inclusive of everybody"

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -The special education team at Jackson Creek Elementary School is behind a first-of-its-kind event. Students and community members are invited to take part in what’s being called Understanding Others Day.

Jackson Creek Elementary opened its doors not long ago and is currently in its third school year. It’s a Title One school, which means they serve a large amount of low-income students. The school receives supplemental funding to offer programming, plus free or reduced school lunches to better help these students meet their educational goals.

Staff members say the school also serves a significant number of special needs students. This includes students with intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, students who may be hearing or seeing impaired as well as students who use prosthetics, among many other disabilities.

After some issues with bullying, the special education team decided to host Understanding Others Day.

Lauren Sturkie is a special education teacher at Jackson Creek Elementary.

Sturkie says, “Just because someone looks different than you or needs a walker or is in a wheelchair to get around, doesn’t mean that they’re any less of a person. So, just building that tolerance and knowing that we’re all equal and nothing would separate someone from being just as great as you are.”

Sturkie believes the time is now to treat everyone equally.

“It’s 2020 and it’s time to be inclusive of everybody whether we look or talk differently.”

Understanding Others Day will give students the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes for a change. There will be activities which place students in positions that limit their mobility to help them gain compassion for their peers and understand different learning styles.

“Having loud music and trying to spell a word to know what it’s like when you have a noise distraction – just putting other students who might not have a limitation in this position of having a limitation – to know what it’s like to overcome that obstacle to still do their best,” Sturkie said.

That event is happening Jan. 16 at Jackson Creek Elementary School on Trenholm Road Extension in northeast Columbia. They’re kicking things off with a pep rally in the performance area around 8:20 a.m.

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