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JMF Q&A: Your Questions Answered

You asked and we answered! For this week’s blog, JMF asked our community, via social media, to send us any and all questions that they have for, or about, the Foundation. We had so many great questions sent in, and we’re excited to share our answers with you. Keep reading to learn more about JMF, our programs, and our future.

What are your most common questions you get from students of different ages when you engage them on the topic of disability diversity?

Answering student’s questions is one of our favorite parts of disABILITY Awareness! There are so many great questions that students of all ages ask us, but we do run into some more frequently than others. 

Younger students, Pre-K through 2nd grade, ask our JMFriends’ puppets a lot of questions about everyday activities and the likes/dislikes of puppets with disabilities. They are also curious about the visible and auditory differences that they see and hear from our puppets. Here are some frequently asked questions:

  • How do you get in and out of bed? (posed to Mark Riley, a puppet who uses a wheelchair – or as he calls it, a cruiser)!
  • What’s your favorite food, color, sport, etc?
  • How do you eat? (posed to Renaldo, our puppet who is blind).
  • Why do you talk like that? (posed to Mark Riley, who has cerebral palsy).

For older students, 3rd grade and beyond, the questions can be more specific. For instance, students will often ask if a person is always born with a disability or if disabilities are contagious.  We’ve even had some very astute 3rd graders ask about chromosomal abnormalities. 

When we have volunteer speakers at a school, students are given the opportunity to talk directly with them.  This dynamic allows for more discussion, and for our students to get firsthand information from someone with a disability. Students regularly ask these questions: 

  • Has anyone ever made fun of you for having a disability?
  • Is it difficult to go places in a wheelchair (or with adaptive equipment)?
  • What are your hobbies/what do you do for fun?

 

What vision do you have for your organization moving forward?

We are working to expand the depth and breadth of our education offerings, we are focused on creating more opportunities for students in Indiana (and eventually beyond) to learn the importance of celebrating differences, and we plan to continue being a thought leader as we teach acceptance, kindness, empathy, and respect to children.

 

How is JMF adapting to the pandemic?

Currently all of our staff is working remotely as much as possible. We worked diligently all summer to create virtual offerings of our disABILITY Awareness and HOPE programs for the 2020-2021 school year! This content is an incredible asset to our program partners as they navigate e-Learning and hybrid school models throughout the COVID-19 crisis. This also means that we can begin to engage with school’s outside of central Indiana for years to come. 

While some JMF programs have been paused for the time being, namely Joseph Maley Fitness, we are taking this time as an opportunity to adapt, and find new ways to continue serving children of ALL abilities.

 

Do you have any upcoming events for the end of 2020?

While we are not hosting any in-person events for the remainder of the year, we do have some great opportunities to support JMF coming up! You can see all our end-of-year “events” below:

Online Auction (Sunday, Nov. 15 – 20)

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for a friend or family member (or maybe even a little something for yourself)? Don’t miss out on this special opportunity, AND support JMF at the same time! 

JMF Day (Wednesday, Nov. 18)

Purchase any JMF merchandise for 25% off while supplies last! Give a great gift with our PJ bottoms, quarter-zips, blankets, baseball tees, and more!

Book Fair (Monday, Nov. 30 – December 5)

JMF is partnering with Barnes & Noble for our first-ever Virtual Book Fair! Purchase books from your wish list (or ours!) and a percentage of your total will be donated back to JMF. This online book fair means you can shop from the comfort of your own home.

 

Do you have any programs or content that families can use at home?

Yes! This spring and summer JMF staff and interns worked to create content free for families to use during quarantine. On our website you can find activities from our HOPE program, that focus on social-emotional learning, and four Joseph Maley Fitness adaptive yoga videos.

 

How do you choose what books to use for your in-school curriculum?

Educators, staff or parents often recommend many books for us to review, but sometimes we have a staff member do a bit of online sleuthing to find books needed for certain topics we want to cover in our curriculum. Our Curriculum Manager reads all books, and has others review as well.  If a book is a good fit for our programs, new content is created. It’s an exciting process, and one that we’re constantly undertaking. We love to add new books to our curriculum library.

Most of our books come to us through donations. If you’d like to donate a book to JMF, you can find our book wish list HERE. Don’t forget about our partnership with Barnes & Noble (Nov. 30 – Dec. 5), that’s a great time to donate a book, and have a percentage of your purchase come back to JMF – double the fun!

 

What needs have parents communicated to you that are most concerning?

The most concerning issue during the pandemic is that remote learning has been insufficient for students with significant special needs. 

 

Have you ever considered hosting workshops for parents of kids with different developmental and physical disabilities? 

Yes, we have conducted some parent workshops through our JMFS program, although our one-on-one pro bono guidance from our attorney volunteers seems to have a higher impact.  As we navigate how to assist families during the pandemic, virtual workshops are a possibility we plan to explore.