West Jefferson Hills elementary schools teach empathy and understanding for special needs students
The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh recently presented to all of the West Jefferson Hills elementary schools educational puppet shows, “Kids on the Block.” Through its community outreach efforts, the Children’s Institute has developed a series of educational workshops and assemblies to teach empathy, awareness and acceptance of students with disabilities. According to elementary counselors Megan McKinley and Julia Taylor, “the message of the assembly is directly aligned to our school district’s core values of empathy, integrity and respect, and we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to reinforce those values while educating our kids about students with special needs.” The “Kids on the Block” assembly features three skits, each casting a light on three different disabilities. After each skit, students were invited to ask the puppets questions about their disabilities. Teachers also were provided with supplemental activities to use with students throughout the school year. All of the elementary students enjoyed the program and came away with a better understanding of students that might be different or have special needs.