The Preschool at PRUMC is All in for Inclusion!
In March 2019, The Preschool at PRUMC went all out for National Down Syndrome Day! “GO TEAM TOMMY!” was the theme of the day. All of Tommy’s classmates celebrated their love and acceptance for Tommy by sporting “Team Tommy” shirts (teachers AND every friend in the class).
After some playtime, Mrs. K led a wonderful and impactful lesson on being “different.” She brought up pairs of friends and talked about different hair color, eye color, height, length of fingers, shapes of faces, ways we talk. Every time the kids pointed out a difference she ended it with “different is OK, different is JUST different.” Then she read a really sweet story called When Emma Met Charley. It’s about a boy who meets a girl in a wheelchair whose arms and legs look “different.” The story goes through ways she’s different, the same and why being different isn’t weird, bad, sad or strange… it’s just different. Mrs. K was eloquent in her delivery and very natural. The message was delivered perfectly for our friends. The kids were interested, asked questions and were impacted by the story. They understood that today was a day to support wholeheartedly Tommy and accept EVERYONE’s differences.
It was followed up with a small lesson before playground. The class was asked if they knew WHY we were wearing “Team Tommy” shirts. Then the teacher asked if anyone had heard of Down Syndrome. Some friends took guesses, but no one was familiar. She told the class today was National Down Syndrome day. She got some confused looks (as expected). Then she bridged the lesson… “Remember when Mrs. K talked you about how we ALL look different, and have different things about us that make us who we are…” “These are things we are born with, like he has red hair, she has blue eyes. Did we choose the way we look, talk, learn (no!!.. some kids said, “God made us”)” She explained as simply as possible that our bodies are made of tiny cells, our cells of something called chromosomes, and Tommy has an extra chromosome (47 vs 46) (reminded not bad, strange or weird… just different).
She talked about ways Tommy is the same, ways he is different, and things he is great at. She also described him as having a superpower. A common trait of Down syndrome is exhibiting happiness and joy, increased empathy and hyperawareness to other’s emotions and a strong desire for friendships and close bonds. She told them that his superpower was feeling and understanding his friend’s feelings. “Tommy loves his friends, loves to be loved and is thankful for those who are kind, right Tom? (he nodded yes with a huge smile). The kids were receptive, showed compassion and understanding. They are so glad to be a part of spreading awareness and kindness to young friends. Tommy was rejoiced as a beloved member in our classroom today!
What a wonderful day for Team Tommy and INCLUSION awareness!