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Past Kids ADA Art Contest Winners
Congress designated October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The West Virginia legislature designated the third week of October as Disability History Week.
Every year during October and November Mountain State Centers for Independent Living staff and consumers in Huntington and Beckley conduct a Kids ADA (American with Disabilities Act ) education program in local elementary schools in Cabell, Wayne, and Raleigh counties.
The Kids ADA program is offered to students in the third through the eighth grades. It is an educational program designed to promote awareness of people with disabilities. The program provides an opportunity for students to interact with people with disabilities and to learn more about the assistive technologies that people with disabilities use, such as wheelchairs and seeing eye dogs.
MTSTCIL believes that if we promote disability awareness at an early age, we can reduce attitudinal barriers and help children to realize that we are all more alike than different.
We talk to kids about the different disabilities that people have, how to treat people with disabilities (like everyone else!) and provide an opportunity to introduce kids to people with disabilities who talk to them and answer their questions.
Kelly Simpson of MTSTCIL in Huntington tells us that the program for the 2009 school year was very successful. Kelly and Cathy Hutchinson from the Huntington office visited a total of 13 schools in Cabell and Wayne counties, talked to 565 elementary age students, and 250 middle school age students along with their teachers.
We talked about disability awareness with the students and their teachers. Some of the questions we ask the students are:
All of these questions and many more are presented to the students to help them learn more about disability awareness.
When we talk to students we tell them a little about our disabilities. Kelly talks about being a parent of two children with disabilities. Our consumers talk about their disabilities and the experiences they've had in their life.
The students enjoy talking with us and learning more about disability awareness. It's a positive and helpful program for the students, teachers, consumers and staff that participate. Students who have a disability or know someone who does speak to us freely about their concerns and desire to be the best they can be.