LEA webinars

 

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April is autism acceptance month. Perfect time to
explore these topics!

other STF links

Taking the Pain Out of Playing Time (AMDnet)

Auditory Training Using Musical Instruments (ECEnet)

Being Flexible About Flexible Seating (LDnet)

Proficiency-Based Education:
A Paradigm Shift (LEADnet)

Tools for Talking With Students
About Disability

Dignity and respect for each and every one of God’s children is an important aspect of our Lutheran education. But tools for walking through these conversations about disability are often not shared or readily available.On the whole, Christian schools are underserving students with disabilities. An outcome of that is that your student population misses out on the natural learning process that comes with being in community with people of differing abilities. This can result in a lack of awareness about disabilities in general. Potential and possibilities can be overlooked. It can also result in a lack of respect for or understanding of people with disabilities. So how DO you talk with your students about those with disabilities? What do you do in the following situations?

What’s a teacher to do? Dignity and respect for each and every one of God’s children is an important aspect of our Lutheran education. But tools for walking through these conversations about disability are often not shared or readily available. Let’s explore a few resources for you to use when the topic comes up. Or even before it does!

Some of you may have heard of the campaign to end the R word. But do you know that it began with Rosa’s Law ? The siblings of Rosa Marcellino were tired of hearing her referred to as retarded. Working through their state government officials, they enacted Rosa’s Law to replace the word retarded with intellectual disability in all laws and state codes. This law was signed into federal law in 2010. It’s a great story about the power of advocacy of children on behalf of others to make a difference and improve the dignity they are afforded.

Teaching about Rosa’s Law and the use of the word retarded or similar words like moron or imbecile are a good place to start. And maybe you have done that already. Fostering a positive view of people with disabilities, however, is much more complex than the language we use. It includes developing awareness and reframing social and cultural norms to consider the value and dignity of all people and respect for all of God’s children.

“The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without.” —1 Corinthians 12:22
“You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.”—1 Corinthians 12:27

1 Corinthians 12 is likely very familiar to you. This one-body-many-parts verse has many applications. But check out verse 22. It says “In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without” (NIrV). Exploring what that might mean with your students is a great place to start. Continuing with verse 27, “You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.” Note it doesn’t say each one except those with disabilities. It says each one. Period. Your students can begin to think about the things people with disabilities can contribute and how they are important to the whole body of Christ.

Additional steps to create awareness about disabilities, explore what the Bible says, and access free resources to make your learning community more aware and informed are listed and linked below. All of them are free to download from Bethesda’s website listed at the end of the descriptions. Each themed collection of resources includes a chapel talk, lessons for each age level, children’s message, adult devotion, coloring pages, enrichment activities, and more.

Based on Isaiah 43:1, Called by Name focuses on how we are each called by name and how we are all his.

Differences are a part of the wonderful diversity of God’s creation. Pointing out the many, many ways that students are similar or things they have in common takes the focus away from differences. Different roles on a sports team or different ingredients in a recipe can be concrete examples of uniqueness, different but important for the whole. You can find more specific activities in our Meant to Be disability awareness materials based on 1 Corinthians 12:18 “God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be” (NIrV).

“God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be.” —1 Corinthians 12:18

Using the John 15 verses about the vine and the branches, the Christ Connection shares how we are all connected to Christ. That makes us all a part of the same family. You will find all these resources by clicking here.

Also look for our newly released Wonderfully Made materials available for purchase through www.cph.org . Based on Psalm 139, the message is clear that God handcrafted each of us. There are no mistakes. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. We each have a unique place in His family and in His plan.

“How you made me is amazing and wonderful,  I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful, I know that very well.” —Psalms 139:14

Finally, Bethesda has ministry consultants across the country who provide free consulting and materials for schools and churches to increase disability awareness and promote the inclusion of people with disabilities and support for their families. For more information click on the locations tab on Bethesda’s main page and click on your state to find the contact in your area.

God bless your work with all of the children you touch as you help them to see that people of all abilities are a vital part of the Family of God!

Mona Fuerstenau is a disability advocate with more than 30 years in the field. She is a retired speech pathologist, past LCMS disability task force chair, and parent of two young adult diverse learners. In her current position as director of ministry partnerships for Bethesda Lutheran Communities, provider of residential, employment and faith supports for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, she works to equip the church at large to become a place of belonging for people of all abilities.

NIrV Bible: Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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