Special Education Students Participate in Westchester County Program
As students in John Jay High School’s special education class considered the importance of wearing a reflective vest and headlamp as part of a pedestrian safety presentation, one of the students showed the instructor the reflective strips on his wheelchair. That got the whole class talking about how he needed to drive his powered chair slowly and safely!
The conversation was part of a six-week program in John Jay Middle and High Schools’ special education classes called Be Educated About Transit, or B.E.A.T. Plus. It was developed by Anna Masopust, mobility specialist with Westchester County’s Office for People with Disabilities, to support individuals’ travel skills. “The program will culminate in a Bee-Line bus trip from Katonah to Mt. Kisco with students taking the lead in planning the trip,” said Masopust.
Anna Wyganowska, Westchester County traffic education officer, visits JJHS
considering wheelchair safety
the goal is independence
The goal of B.E.A.T. Plus dovetails with one of the goals of Katonah-Lewisboro’s special education program: independence.
“The big word in this class is independence,” said teacher Maria Mellon. “We build on it every day.”
Not only is her classroom full of everyday items which support this goal, such as a washer and drier, and a kitchen sink designed for a wheelchair to roll under, the students practice safe pedestrian habits on an on-going basis. They walk through Katonah, which is full of active driveways, and even visit New York City—a master class in traffic awareness.
Transit skills open opportunities
The students’ full days includes vocational training at PNW BOCES Career and Technical Education Center as well as work experiences at local establishments. Right now, the Katonah-Lewisboro school buses provide transportation. After graduation, the students may depend on public transportation: buses, trains and ParaTransit.
“The skills they learn through B.E.A.T. Plus will open up recreational and educational opportunities in the future as well as enhance their self-esteem and support inclusion,” said Christine Doherty, the districtwide school psychologist who is coordinating the program.