HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Farragut Middle School students participated in a half-day program called "Walk in My Shoes" on Monday, March 16, to raise awareness of the spectrum of challenges children experience that may not be obvious.
From participating in carefully crafted activities and discussions, students walked away with a new understanding of, and empathy for, people facing challenges that affect the school experience.
Challenges might be in a student’s ability to learn, concentrate, stay organized, communicate, or in the foods they need to avoid during lunch or snack.
Barbara Richman, the sixth-grade team coordinator, praised parents for introducing the idea to the middle school. A committee of sixth-grade teachers, parents and school administrators planned the program to heighten empathy for others in a way that was age-appropriate for middle school.
Prior to the Walk in My Shoes day, the students saw testimonials posted online by children who struggle with various challenges.
The program began when sixth-graders viewed excerpts from the film "Samuel," a documentary featuring a number of people with physical challenges, introducing the idea of “inclusion” in a school setting. Students were asked to consider how they might actively support inclusion in the school community.
The students returned to their classrooms to learn more about the challenges faced by some of their classmates through discussions, simulations and hands-on activities.
At the end of the day, four Hastings High School students spoke about their school experiences and how finding the right strategies can help a learner navigate through personal challenges. They shared insight into how, with hard work, self-advocacy and by using school resources, they have become successful students working toward achieving their aspirations.
The high school students who participated in the panel were Michael Rotiroti, Ian Cooper-Smith, Ana Gadze, and Maya Adair, all juniors.
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