Did you know that our forefather Isaac experienced blindness? Or that Jacob had a physical disability and walked with a limp? Or that Leah had low vision? Or that Moses had a speech impediment?
At Gateways, many of our programs are focused on directly supporting students with diverse learning needs and disabilities and on giving Jewish educators the tools they need to make their classrooms inclusive. Yet this is only part of the full ecosystem that surrounds a child. Peer disability awareness is a critical component of how we create a sense of belonging in our community. So we’re very proud to share that Gateways has resumed our partnership with Understanding Our Differences, an organization that works to foster respectful and inclusive schools and communities for people of all abilities.
This disability awareness program presents seven different disability categories for exploration and discussion. For each topic, students in grades 3-5 engage in a Jewish text study, hear a presentation, and meet a guest speaker with the specific disability being discussed.
On December 9, 2021, we presented the unit on learning disabilities to several fourth grade classrooms remotely. Our guest speaker, Rachel Lloyd, shared her experience of growing up with dyslexia. She spoke engagingly and authentically, even when answering tough questions about being bullied or feeling stupid. Check out a clip of her presentation below—and let us know if your local Jewish day school wants to participate in this vital program!