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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"Everybody Counts" in Fort Thomas Schools

Johnson Elementary Kindergarten students are led in a discussion by a volunteer. FTM file. 

While Fort Thomas schools continue to be nationally acclaimed, one of the very few potential downsides is a lack of diversity in the schools which could leave some of the graduates not quite as well equipped to enter a world where diversity and sensitivity matters.

However, the schools do a really great job trying to combat that as best as possible with various programs, one of which is in need of volunteers.  “Everybody Counts” is an annual program conducted in all three of the Elementary schools with the goal of, according to volunteer coordinator Heather Gorrigan, “mak(ing) our children more aware of the struggles and achievements of people with disabilities.”
FTM file. 

Students participate in age-appropriate discussions regarding different disabilities.  Each grade level learns about a specific disability and breaks out into small groups to discuss the possible struggles associated with living with such a disability daily.  In addition, a speaker with that disability (or a related one) will come to speak to each grade to further the discussion and provider her/his own experiences/answer questions.
FTM file. 
"By the time a student reaches fifth grade, he or she will have learned about a wide range of disabilities,” said Gorrigan.  As one can imagine, this experience should have a lasting impact on a student’s worldview, helping them to better empathize with persons with a disability.

The program runs with help from volunteers, who are needed to coordinate these breakout discussions. Gorrigan said that it's important to remember that prior knowledge of the assigned disability is not needed. “After one year of volunteering for this wonderful program, many parents are eager to sign up again,” she said.

So, the Elementary students are counting on you to help them know how “Everybody Counts”.

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