Students from John Jay High School’s World of Difference Club led school board members through exercises designed to simulate what it’s like to have various disabilities.
Try this: take an index card, hold it to your forehead, and try writing your name backwards. Challenged?
That was the point of an exercise in which attendees of last week’s school board meeting participated. Led by four members of John Jay High School’s ‘A World of Difference Club,’ the exercise illustrated the difficulties people with dysgraphia—a writing disability—experience every day.
Samantha Lish, Jake Goodman, Carol Cotto, and Amy Burlander, along with their club advisor, high school special education teacher Meghan Lynch,
each took a turn facilitating activities that simulated a variety of disabilities or impairments, one of the many goals of the club.
“We are here to celebrate differences and develop a sensitivity and awareness,” said Goodman, a junior. “We all have abilities, but need to understand disabilities as well, to be more compassionate toward others.”
The students described their work as an important step in not just knowing what disabilities are, but what it’s like to for people who have them. Board members Mark Lipton and Charles Day experienced how it feels to have difficulties with fine motor skills when they (unsuccessfully) attempted to build a lego structure while wearing mittens.
Lynch said the student presentation represents only a fraction of the service done by members of the club.
“We are sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, so the students receive training in bullying, stereotyping and sensitivity,” she said. “They use that training to help facilitate a bullying workshop with social workers at the middle school, and the Differences Day program [a workshop in which elementary students go through stations to experience disability-simulation exercises].”
The service club also conducts clothing drives and fundraisers and last year donated $500 toward Haiti earthquake victims.
For more on differences day, click here to read this previous Patch coverage from the program when it was previously held at Lewisboro Elementary School.
By Lisa Buchman
January 31, 2012