Creating Empathy . . . building Relationships

 Why does my friend get to leave class to play games with a therapist? Should I push someone’s wheelchair or let them go more slowly on their own? What do I do when I can’t understand my classmate’s speech?

These are very real questions children may have about situations they encounter in school and elsewhere.

“Because of inclusion, kids know kids who are different,” said Michelle Christie, former president of Katonah-Lewisboro’s Special Education PTO (SEPTO) and chair of this year’s Differences Day, an annual workshop for students in second and fifth grades. “Differences Day helps students understand physical and sensory processing issues and creates opportunities for support, empathy, and relationships.”

Differences Day ran from November 28 to 30 this year. Each second and fifth grade student spent a session in their school gymnasium, rotating through a series of hands-on activities designed to simulate visual, auditory, speech and motor impairments, as well as learning differences. At one station, they tried on goggles that simulate visual impairment; at another they did puzzles while wearing gloves that evoke fine motor skills challenges. They also tried to carry a lunch tray while navigating in a wheelchair.

Katonah Elementary School