Kaleidoscope of Friends: Inclusive Schools Week at APS

“Kaleidoscope of Friends” was this year’s theme for Inclusive Schools Week (ISW). On Dec. 3-7, Atlanta Public Schools held events through the District that celebrated beauty in all shapes and colors.

On Thursday, Dec. 6, the APS Department of Special Education hosted a special discussion, featuring APS Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan.  The celebratory program also featured a choir performance from the Crawford W. Long Middle School Choir, as well as a special presentation by Jonathan and Joshua Kimbrough, twin brothers who attend Carver Early College High School.

On Friday, Dec. 7 at Dobbs Elementary School, every class at every grade level spent 10 minutes in the Sensory Room, rotating through stations for sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste that simulated how individuals with disabilities learn through various sensory conditions. District 60 Representative Kim Schofield also joined in the fun. Students in Autism teacher Takara Dudley’s class maned the stations. 

“I love the activities our team has put together,” said Dr. Charnita V. West, Dobbs principal. “It gives us the chance to focus on how we are unique, not just students with disabilities but the uniqueness of us all.”

The Sensory Room was conceptualized by Dudley, who teaches students with low-incident disabilities, including students on the spectrum.

ISW “reminds us that we all have differences,” Dudley said. “Our differences are what makes us unique but also makes us family. We are more similar than we are different.”

The Hollis Innovation Academy community celebrated Inclusive Schools Week in a big way, which included themed dress-up days, special guest speakers, and classroom activities that brought students together to encourage and practice every Hollis Habit: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Empathy, Perseverance, and Self-Discipline. The week culminated in a wheelchair basketball game, led by BlazeSports America, an organization dedicated to providing children and adults with physical disabilities the chance to play sports and live healthy, active lives. After watching an invigorating game among BlazeSports athletes, several students were given an opportunity to join in alongside them!

Following the game, each of the students enjoyed a luncheon, during which they became more acquainted with each other and reminisced about the week’s engaging activities.

When asked by a BlazeSports America team member to identify ways in which we are the same, one kindergarten student replied, “We are human.”

Students at Hollis Innovation Academy enjoy a game of wheelchair basketball during Inclusive Schools Week.

On Friday, fifth-grade students at Beecher Hills Elementary School visited and socialized with students in the school’s autism unit during a special ice cream social activity in honor of National Inclusive Schools Week.

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