#BetterTogether week that ran from February 5th through the 9th. This week long effort was led by our parent community, in conjunction with the entire Chatsworth staff. This was made possible because of collaborative efforts, relying on one another to plan, execute, and celebrate the differences in us all.
#BetterTogether is an initiative that promotes messages of awareness of others, inclusivity, possibility, and responsibility while exploring and understanding how people with different abilities live and see the world around them. Our students at Chatsworth were able to learn about and experience what a person might feel like, or how the adapt to living with a specific difference that impacts some aspects of their lives. Each grade level learned about differences; such as visual and hearing impairment, physical needs, the autism spectrum, down syndrome, and look into how we are all unique. This work happened in the classrooms where parents and teachers together joined our students to teach into appreciating and understanding how others live in the world with differences. Most importantly, there differences don't limit their possibilities to achieve, and strive for the stars, just like they do!
This week also enabled us to invite speakers to share their own stories and journeys with our second through fifth graders.
Chloe Weiser, who is a senior at Mamaroneck High School came to share story with our second grade students about what it's like to live with hearing loss, as well as the technology that is changing the world for people who has hearing loss. She discussed how she worked with researchers at Columbia University to design a microphone for cochlear implants, which will be implantable allowing people to swim and bathe with it. The students learned about what it means to have hearing loss, and various ways to communicate; such as use of lip reading, and sign-language. Receiving the Original Science Research and Acorda Scientific Excellence Award communicated the impact of what perseverance and passion can do for us!
Rachel Handler also came to speak to our second and third grade students about being a singer, actor, and dancer who has performed in Carnegie Hall, off and on broadway, and in episodes of Law and Order, and other televised shows. She sang, "How Far I'll Go" from Moana, to highlight how anything is achievable. Rachel communicated how supported she felt from her family and friends on her road to recovery. There was also an opportunity for her to highlight other individuals living and thriving from new technologies, support teams, and hard work that enable anything to happen. She played videos for the students of her dancing shortly after her accident, and others who have succeed in continuing to follow their dreams and passions. The students loved hearing and learning about who she is and what she believes!
Here is a link to her page http://www.rachelahandler.com/
Up next, Rebecca Alexander came to speak to our 4th and 5th graders about what life is like living with usher's syndrome. Rebecca is a psychotherapist, author, keynote speaker, fitness instructor and a disability rights advocate. Her presentation send messages to students that even strong people need help, and not to shy away from a person who has a disability even though your first reaction can be that it's weird and uncomfortable. Rebecca discussed the how it's important to help others who might be having difficulty, the same way that you would want to be treated. Rebecca also shared with students about her adventures that included climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and swam from Alcatraz to the shore in the San Francisco Bay. I'm not sure many of us can say the same! Rebecca is an inspiration, and someone who reminded us all that it's important to remember how fortunate we are. Being able to do the smallest things is a gift.
Here is the link to her page http://www.rebalexander.com/
I leave you with some student quotes about the week.