Ability Awareness at UAS

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The mission of the Uruguayan American School (UAS) is to be a multicultural, academically challenging learning community that prepares responsible global citizens by encouraging its students to develop respect, empathy, open-mindedness, and tolerance.

We consider students to be our future, and they will have the power to make our community and the world a more inclusive and tolerant place to live. The Ability Awareness Program promotes knowledge and understanding of different realities and scenarios as well as involvement in various activities with local schools and institutions that have students with sensory deficits, developmental disabilities, and genetic or chronic conditions.

The main goal of this initiative is to give UAS students a coordinated approach that encourages understanding, acceptance, and appreciation of individual learning and ability differences through fun and experiential activities for the benefit of the children and their families.

During 2014-2015, our school started this project by working with three different Montevideo-based institutions. This highly positive experience had a great impact on our school community, and as a result we decided to continue expanding our networks.

By the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year more institutions had been contacted and were eager to work with our students. The main focus of the Ability Awareness Program is for our students to create a real bond and to deeply understand the meaning of another’s difficulties. We introduced the master plan to our student community through different activities.

Each grade visited a specific institution to work with during the school year. The carefully chosen schools included two special public schools in Montevideo—Escuela 200, for children with motor difficulties and Escuela 198, for blind children and those with other associated difficulties—as well as Teleton, CEENDA (a private institution for deaf children) and Fundacion Oportunidad.

Some activities our students participated in included playing quadrugby during physical education class, using sign language, and writing in Braille. UAS students also went to a rehabilitation center for kids with motor/physical disabilities. To prepare UAS students for visits to the different institutions, the students were exposed to situations where they needed to develop new ways to solve problems, such as buttoning shirts with socks on their hands, writing with their non-dominant hand, and using a wheelchair to move around the basketball court. These activities allowed students to see how everyday activities can become challenging under different conditions.

Middle School STUCO is part of the project, helping us organize the activities and joining us during the visits to the institutions. As a way of forging bonds, these institutions will visit our school during the next semester and will work with the partner classes.

At the end of the school year, UAS will organize an Ability Awareness Day, inviting everyone who was part of the program to an event involving games designed in a way that allows everyone to participate actively.

As an International Baccalaureate school, we have a mission to encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right! Our goal is to make this project school-wide to provide an opportunity to make our students critical thinkers in different ways, helping them develop the life skills that are needed to be good world citizens. We think Ability Awareness is a program that will help us accomplish this mission.

We would also like to learn from other schools’ experiences in this area. We do hope this experience proves beneficial to the whole community and leads to the creation of stronger bonds to enhance awareness of inclusiveness and tolerance.

  Some of our Ability Awareness Activities for the Spring 2015 Semester:

  We have put together a video to introduce the Ability Awareness Program to our students.

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