This year, National Inclusive Schools Week is December 7 – 11, 2020. The theme “The Time for Inclusion is NOW!” was chosen in recognition of ways in which a greater appreciation for inclusion, as a philosophy and as a way of life in our schools and community, has emerged. As this year has progressed, we have had an unusual vantage point for understanding an even broader meaning of inclusion. Across the world, we are experiencing a new form of isolation that is required in response to the coronavirus pandemic. We are now familiar with the term: social distancing. In the not too distant future, we hope to celebrate our resilience in the face of difficulty and experience the joys of being included in a community that learns, plays, and works together.
As part of National Inclusive Schools Week, we invite you to join us and The Arc Maryland, in partnership with the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, and the Maryland Department of Disabilities, as we host the “Together We’re Better” Inclusive Education Campaign and Art/Drawing Contests. The campaign and contests provide information on the importance of inclusion for all students and the value of diversity and opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding of these concepts and values through art.
The Arc Maryland developed a “Diversity Celebration” Toolkit complete with new e-learning activities, videos, book recommendations and teacher/parent resources to promote inclusion and participation and increase awareness of disabilities. In addition to the artwork contest for elementary and middle school learners that we have historically had through this program, new this year is a drawing contest for high school students to create coloring book pages for younger children.
Instead of in-person “Disability Awareness” class presentations this year, The Arc Maryland will be providing links to a YouTube channel with free, video disability and inclusion presentations. The goals of the video presentations are to encourage school-wide inclusive practices while engaging students in activities that create camaraderie between all students with and without disabilities throughout Maryland.
Student winners of the art and drawing contests will receive state-wide recognition and gift cards. The schools of students honored with 1st through 3rd places in the TWB Art contest will also receive cash awards. We encourage you to promote “Together We’re Better” Inclusive Education Awareness and Art/Drawing Contests in your schools and community. Please share this letter with principals in your systems. Their support and school-wide involvement in this celebration heightens awareness and provides meaningful hands-on involvement for students.
For more information about the “Together We’re Better” Inclusive Education Awareness Campaign, visit www.thearcmd.org or contact Ande Kolp, Executive Director, The Arc Maryland at firstname.lastname@example.org.