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Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Walk in My Shoes" : Empathy training for children

Hillside Elementary School hopes their "Walk in My Shoes" program will encourage their students to support and empathize with peers who have learning challenges. "Walk in My Shoes, “ is an experiential learning program that allows mainstream kids to feel what it's like to have sensory challenge, such as like movement disabilities, dyslexia, Asperger's Syndrome and Attention Deficit Disorder. The program is normally recommended as a one-day break from the regular schedule but the special education team at Hillside have stretched it out to last a full month. The kids were first presented with an obstacle course to navigate which they did then they had to do it again with big clown shoes on. The idea of the exercise was to show what it's like to try to walk across a balance beam, for example, when you struggle with keeping your balance. Week one focused on sensory challenges, week two, on reading; week three, making friends and social skills and the final week revolves around speech and language. The week if special tasks is followed by a debriefing session each Friday.

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