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Growing in Awareness

Joseph Maley Foundation programs continue to grow at an extraordinary rate in 2018, as we celebrate ten years of serving children of all abilities.

The Joseph Maley Foundation just wrapped up our largest year of disABILITY Awareness programming. Students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grades from 21 different schools engaged in a variety of experiences, including hands-on activities, bibliotherapy, and listening to guest speakers.

Each piece of the DA program is designed to teach acceptance through respect, empathy, and kindness—an endeavor that would not be successful without a dedicated and creative team. When a staff member facilitates disABILITY Awareness programming, they have to be ready for anything, whether they are helping kindergarten students experience the challenges of reduced fine motor skills, or demonstrating how to use a walker to an eighth grader “taking on” a disability for the day.

Program Assistant Liz Freisen concluded her first school year with disABILITY Awareness this month and took on a number of roles within the program, including donning a rainbow wig and polka dots during a kindergarten presentation.  She shared, “My favorite moment of the year has been taking on the role of Groovy the Clown and educating kindergarten students in the grade-level focus ‘It’s Okay to Be Different.’ I get to emphasize the values of acceptance and inclusion each time I put on that goofy outfit, and I love engaging with our youngest learners.”

The growth of JMF’s disABILITY Awareness program has been extraordinary.  Director Julie Friedman noted, “Each year is different from the last. We are continuing to add curriculum as well as utilize our Joseph Maley Friends puppet troupe in a variety of ways. In April, we performed at the ‘Take Your Child to Work’ event at Eli Lilly. It was a great experience for our 8th grade puppeteers!”

The size and scale of the program will increase during the 2018-19 school year, as well as the number of schools and organizations served. While growth can present challenges, the Joseph Maley Foundation is working hard to expand and tailor the curriculum and activities to the unique needs of each school partner.  Staff members, speakers, and volunteers continue to create an environment that imparts the value of focusing on ABILITY in order to foster acceptance and kindness.  Thank you to all of our partners and congratulations on another successful year of disABILITY Awareness!

Post written by: Courtney Basso, Events and Communications Manager