Walk In My Shoes Program
Nearby non profit organizations
Ridgetop Circle, Sterling
Woodland Park Road
Every time I volunteer for this event I leave the school feeling very pleased by the positive responses of all the students. This is a program we should be doing in all of our schools!!
We teach empathy and inclusion through fun and interactive activities.
Please take a moment to read and share this article on thin-slice judgments. This article explains how painful it is for autistic people to be constantly judged as being different or unlikeable. As the kids around you prepare to return to school, please talk with them about differences and the importance of including others.
To quote Rachel Macy Stafford of The Hands-Free Revolution: When everyone else stares, do something different.
It’s an invitation of the most inclusive kind.
It tells the heart standing outside the circle,
“Come on in. There’s a place for you here.”
ID: A black background image with a pair of eyes outlined in white and text in light green lettering that says "Thin Slice Judgements" and text in red that says "and the different world autistics inhabit"
The Hands Free Revolution
Free PDF download: Thin Slice Judgements and The Different World Autistics Inhabit Research has shown that instantly, non-autistic people negatively judge autistic people on first sight. This is a free printable resource for you on thin slice judgements.
With the Women's World Cup now underway in Australia and New Zealand, we're celebrating Mighty Girls of soccer, including Carson Pickett who made history last year as the first soccer player with a limb difference to play for the US Women's National Team! The 29-year-old defender, who was born without the lower half of her left arm, currently plays for Racing Louisville; she made her debut with the USWNT in a match against Colombia last summer.
Carson, pictured here with a young fan, says that she hopes that her example will raise awareness and acceptance of people with limb differences. "While I know that I am confident and comfortable with showing my arm, I know there are so many people in the world who aren't. The feeling of being different and the anxiety of not fitting in is something that I have been through. Wearing sweatshirts in the dead heat of summer to hide my are," she wrote on social media. "I hope to encourage anyone who struggles with their limb difference to not be ashamed of who they are."
For soccer-loving Mighty Girls, we've featured books, clothing, toys, and gear about girls and women's love of the game in our blog post "The Beautiful Game" at https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=15478
For an excellent middle grade novel about a girl who thrives despite her "lack of armage," we highly recommend "Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus" for ages 9 to 13 (https://www.amightygirl.com/insignificant-events-in-the-life-of-a-cactus) and its sequel, "Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus" (https://www.amightygirl.com/momentous-events-in-the-life-of-a-cactus)
This beloved novel has also been adapted into a new chapter book series starring Aven, an armless Mighty Girl who loves solving mysteries, which begins with "Aven Green, Sleuthing Machine" for ages 6 to 9 at https://www.amightygirl.com/aven-green-sleuthing-machine
For an inspiring memoir by Jordan Reeves, a Mighty Girl growing up with a limb difference, we recommend "Born Just Right" for ages 8 to 11 at https://www.amightygirl.com/born-just-right
There are also several fantastic books about Mighty Girls who pursue their dreams after leg amputations: "Rescue and Jessica" for ages 5 to 9 (https://www.amightygirl.com/rescue-and-jessica), “The Running Dream” for ages 12 and up (https://www.amightygirl.com/the-running-dream), and “A Time To Dance” for ages 13 and up (https://www.amightygirl.com/a-time-to-dance)
For more books that encourage understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities of all varieties, visit our blog post "Many Ways To Be Mighty: 25 Books Starring Mighty Girls with Disabilities" at https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=12992
Photo credit: Becky Burleigh
Sharing this message of celebration from a wonderful organization, Eye to Eye
Commemorating The Americans with Disabilities Act and E2E's 25 Year Anniversary David Flink, Chief Empowerment Officer and Co-Founder at Eye to Eye shares a message to commemorate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (t...
Congratulations to the The Difference Baker for setting the trend toward more inclusive college dining!!!!
🎉 DRUMROLL PLEASE🎉 We're beyond excited to announce that The Difference Baker is coming to George Mason University this fall! 🎊🏫🍰
Our allergen-friendly bakery is setting up shop in the old Einstein Bros. location in the Engineering building, and we couldn't be more thrilled! Our mission is simple - to make a difference in the lives of people with food restrictions by crafting delectable treats that are certified free from gluten, peanut, tree nut, soy, fish, sesame, and crustacean but packed with flavor! 🍪🥐🥯 We're incredibly proud that George Mason University will be our second brick and mortar location ever, and even prouder to be the FIRST university in the nation to bring a certified allergen-friendly bakery to campus!
Join us on this exciting journey as we share the joy of delicious, allergen-safe treats with the Mason community! Follow to stay updated on our bakery's grand opening and more. Let's make a difference together! ✨🍽️
Love this post about sensory issues!
I went to an elementary school early to experience the morning dropoff and help anyone who may need a little support with the transition into school.
As I arrived at the school, I was "announced" by a group of some of my tiny friends: "MR. GREG IS HEEEEEERE!" I've been an OT for almost a quarter of a century. That will NEVER get old!
It was a beautiful day. Parents were lingering in front of the school after saying goodbye for the day, younger siblings were running around on the grass, students were meeting up with their classmates and you can see the slow roll of the car dropoff line in the distance. There was a lot going on outside!
I was in a small group talking Pokémon, and a 4th grader came up to me and asked me a question: "Mr. Greg, how do you stay out here when it's so overwhelming?"
What a question!
I was truly honored that he came up to ask me that (he's not a child on my caseload), and really impressed! So, we talked about it.
I have my sensory issues, and he had his. I also had something he was looking for...a possible solution!
There was A LOT going on outside. It was warm, so with the change of season came a change in temperature and clothing that can definitely take some adjusting to. There were a lot of unpredictable moving parts, including bodies, and the sensory environment was just a lot to process that early in the morning. My coffee hadn't even kicked in yet!
I pulled him into the Pokémon conversation. "Come here, Pikachu" I said with a smile. "I'll explain to you how I handle it out here."
I told him that while I'd prefer to just sit under a tree and squeeze the new Snorlax Squishmellow that just came out, I instead make the environment work for me as best I can. I put my bookbag down so I don't feel so weighted down. Some people like to keep it on because it feels like a hug. I don't like a sweaty back, so on the ground it goes. I also like to find one or two friends I trust to talk to. This way, I can focus on the conversation and not all the craziness around me. I may even turn my back to the crazy so I don't see (I began to point) those little monkies running around, those trees blowing sneezy stuff and those cars smashing into each other at the dropoff line. He quickly snapped his head to look. "Just kidding about that one", I said.
Do you want to hang out with us?
"Sure", he said with a smile.
After a few minutes of talking Mega Pinsir raids and the upcoming GoFest, we walked inside together. We both exhaled. "Recess will be better" I said. "We'll be all warmed up and there'll be less going on out there." He agreed.
This little boy articulated his challenges perfectly, making easy for someone who "thinks sensory" (me) to help him navigate his environment.
But what about the kids who can't articulate their stress, or their sensory challenges, like this little boy? They still may have similiar challenges, and you know how they'll communicate them to us? Through their behavior! Shutting down, running off, pushing someone who got a little too close...when a child is under stress, they will use whatever they have to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible.
You know what would really stink? If that child got in trouble for a behavior that was a response to stress. They were already not feeling their best. The added "consequence" just makes them feel confused...even sad.
So how do we know if a "bad" behavior is a response to stress? Just assume that it is. If we do, it puts us in helping mindset. If we don't, it's a revenge mindset. It's telling a dysregulated child that because they did something WE didn't like, we have to do something to them that THEY don't like in return. That's not healthy, it's not fair, and it's a threat to the very relationship you need for true co-regulation and collaborative problem-solving.
Sensory processing is an all day everyday occurence. For our kids who are hyper- or hypo-sensitive to sensory input, the struggle is very real and often invisible, until their behavior tells us there's a problem to solve.
I'm going back for another dropoff soon. This one was sensational!
Sharing this post from Faithmummy describing what it is like when your child struggles with food. Not food allergies, but texture, taste, smell, whether it touches or not, etc.
What it is like having a child who struggles with food
There’s very little my child will eat. I have tried everything you can think of and more besides. There’s so little understanding around parenting a child like mine so here’s some idea of what it’s like:
It’s ‘stock piling’ when you find an item they will consistently actually eat.
It’s driving miles and miles until you find one packet of something and feeling every penny of fuel was worth it just so your child will have something for their next meal.
It’s wasting so much food yet still being thankful that your child put a few spoons of it into their mouth willingly.
It’s never going out for family meal because you already know your child will never cope or eat.
It’s living in fear of phrases like ‘new improved’, ‘now with extra…’, or ‘discontinued item’.
It’s the heartbreak of knowing something as simple as a change of packaging might stop your child ever eating an item again.
It’s making separate meals every single day.
It’s trying to explain to people that’s it’s way more than ‘fussy eating’ and you are not just ‘pandering to them.’
It’s googling things like ‘beige foods’ or ‘crunchy foods’ or ‘soft foods’ in the vain hope of finding just one more item your child might try.
It’s celebrating when an item is looked at, licked or touched like it’s the greatest thing ever just to then bin it because it still doesn’t get eaten.
It’s the constant worry that your child isn’t getting the necessary vitamins and nutrients they need to grow but being helpless to do anything about it.
It’s begging for support only to ge given shakes your child won’t even so much as look at.
It’s seeing your child underweight and tired and constantly feeling useless to help them.
It’s crying yourself to sleep feeling you have somehow failed your child.
It’s sending a child to school with snacks and food you know they will never even open.
It’s looking at the school lunch menu knowing there won’t be anything your child will eat on there.
It’s being judged constantly by family, friends, and society.
It’s being misunderstood.
It’s hiding your own stress because you mustn’t let your child see or you know they will stop eating altogether.
It’s learning quickly what items will pass the ever changing ‘rules’.
It’s knowing every day will be the same but always hoping that day might still be different.
It’s researching sensory needs, autism, restricted diets, eating disorders and anything else you can think of that might help.
It’s buying diving plates so nothing every touches.
It’s being endlessly patient.
It’s never giving up.
It’s seeing a half empty plate and crying with relief.
By Miriam Gwynne
This Kenyan Inventor Is Behind A Smart-Glove That Translates Sign Language Into Speech In Real Time - AfroTech Spring is upon us, but most areas are still experiencing some remnants of winter weather. So until the environment settles, keeping your favorite...
What's more fun than organizing a Walk In My Shoes event? Organizing it with a friend for her awesome community group!
Last Saturday we participated in a very special Elevate Autism event organized by a local chapter of the Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated organization.
The organizers of this event conceptualized, planned, and executed an excellent model for integrating WIMS inclusion activities into a community event setting.
Thank you, Melissa, Kimberly, and Barbara. It was an honor to work with you. Thank you to MaryBeth Hazelgrove for being my volunteer at this event.
Getting ready for an event next weekend and laminating our new Sensory Detective Badges. Thanks for this idea, Dusty!
We've been enjoying so many great books lately! What books are you reading to help kids understand and appreciate differences?
It's World Autism Acceptance Day! The importance of building empathy in children and adults cannot be overstated which is why our comprehensive program walks kids through the steps needed to help develop empathy. For more information contact Margaret at [email protected].
Two hands holding a heart. Text: Celebrate World Autism Acceptance Day! BUILD EMPATHY. Walk In My Shoes logo on a blue gradient background from light blue to dark blue to violet.
Do you know an FCPS employee who is going above and beyond to include students with disabilities in their communities?
FIRST CLASS AWARD NOMINATIONS:
First-Class Awards are presented each year at the Special Education Conference to individuals who support, design, and/or implement inclusion activities that result in positive outcomes for students. The Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities is seeking nominations for these awards, which recognize and celebrate the inclusion efforts of educators, administrators, and students in all facets of education.
Please complete this form to nominate an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to inclusive practices in FCPS: https://docs.google.com/.../1FAIpQLSfGcA5n46jOyO.../viewform
Nominations will close Friday, April 14.
2023 Special Education Conference First Class Award Nomination Form The Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities (ACSD) is seeking nominations for the First-Class Awards. The First-Class Awards are an annual celebration of individuals in Fairfax County who support, implement, or design programs and activities which include students with disabilities that re...
Last weekend these wonderful children came together to help us run through our new sensory processing activities! They learned how to be aware of what's happening around them and earned badges for being sensory detectives! They also learned what it feels like to want to follow classroom rules but not be able to, and especially, they learned the importance of believing our friends when they say that something is too loud, too bright, or too tight.
Thank you to Lori Vintilescu for her generosity in offering her home and recruiting the participants!
To learn more, visit www.walkinmyshoesprogram.org
ID: Photo of a girl with brown hair making a face that shows dislike, a photo of an orange cat sitting near several colorful sensory tiles, and kids playing with sensory toys. Text says thank you for helping us test our new WIMS sensory processing activities! The WIMS blue and white logo appears near the text.
It's to celebrate !
Every year on March 21, people all around the world come together to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day by wearing brightly colored, mismatched socks.
March 21 is symbolic because people with Down syndrome have 3 copies of their 21st chromosome. Socks were chosen because the karyotype of Ds chromosomes actually looks like mismatched socks!
Show us your socks!
We love hearing from the schools that run WIMS! This message is from a school in Miami that has been running the program through the school counseling team with just one or two activities at a time throughout the year rather than as an assembly with several activity rotations. We love how flexible the program is and the way it fits into whatever a school might need!
ID: Yellow background with a white text box and orange text that says: Message from Miami. Great training and program! We ran the food allergy and emotion reading sessions again today with 4th and 5th grade it was so good to see the kids learn about these topics, we really enjoy the program, Talking with you made me realize how necessary it is to teach these concepts, and the training left me confident in the delivery of the activities that we are doing and the discussions we are having with the kids. I am hoping to hold 3 or 4 more WIMS sessions before the school year ends! www.walkinmyshoesprogram.org
We had so much fun training Rose Hill Elementary staff this week! This school purchased WIMS right before the world shut down and is now getting ready to bring the program to life at their school! Thank you, Rose Hill, for sticking with it, it's going to be great!
New! WIMS Morning Meeting Guide! This is the guide that schools receive when they purchase the WIMS 3rd-grade and up program. It represents the first component in our 3-part program (the 3 parts are 1) pre-teaching; 2) event activities; 3) debriefing) and is now available as a stand-alone piece that can be used during disability, diversability, autism, and other inclusive celebrations!
Click here to purchase and share this post with a friend! https://www.walkinmyshoesprogram.org/product-page/morning-meeting-guide
The original Morning Meeting Guide was developed in collaboration with FCPS Special Education Teacher Lise Greenfield.
The book list was developed by FCPS librarian Tiffany Dowling.
The WIMS Youth Ambassadors, Annika, Sarina, and Rhea, and WIMS Volunteers, Ananya, and Thara helped develop the empathetic listening activity.
The "Just Ask" activity was contributed by Broward County School Counselor, Maritza Zea.
The SMILE poem was included with permission from Rachel Macy Stafford of the Hands Free Revolution.
The respecting names and labels activity was developed in collaboration with the WIMS Visual Impairment Working Group: Arielle Silverman, Ph.D., Disabilities Research and Training Consultant, Disability Wisdom Consulting; Carlton Walker, President, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children; Donna Michelle Genelin, Parent Advocate; Jackie Anderson, Teacher; Melissa Anne Riccobono, Advocate.
The guide was formatted by Jennifer Kruzynski and edited by Joanne Walton.
ID: Slate grey background with white text announcing the new Morning Meeting Guide as a stand-alone product for $25 available through the following link: https://www.walkinmyshoesprogram.org/product-page/morning-meeting-guide
Local friends: Just one week left to nominate someone for a Fairfax County SEPTA Award! Share the love for a teacher, staff member, student or community member who has gone above and beyond to support your child by nominating them for a SEPTA Award of Excellence. Nominations are being accepted now through March 17 and nominees will be invited to the SEPTA Awards Ceremony on May 6. This is a great way to show appreciation for teachers and staff who have made a difference for your child! Nominate someone today online at https://fairfaxcountysepta.org/awards/.
Awards From the beginning, Fairfax County SEPTA has believed in the importance of recognizing the outstanding FCPS teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, specialists, students, and schools that go a…
Love all the efforts to lift up teachers who are dedicated to inclusive practices!
Let's celebrate inclusion! Do you know an FCPS teacher, employee or student who supports inclusion activities for students with disabilities? Nominate them for our Special Education Conference First Class Award! Nominations open through April 14: http://bit.ly/3ywiLBM
We wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the recent passing of the Mother of Disability Rights, Judith Heumann.
She is the reason why we have most of the federal disability laws today and was instrumental in the creation of the social model of disability summed up in this quote:
"Disability only becomes a tragedy when society fails to provide the things we need to lead our lives."
Judy contracted polio as a child and was not allowed to attend school as her wheelchair was deemed a "fire hazard". After rolling over that hurdle, she faced the same hurdle when she tried to become a teacher.
If you have a chance, watch Crip Camp on Netflix or grab her recent autobiography, Being Heumann and the young adult version, Rolling Warrior.
Walk In My Shoes is growing and making wonderful new connections! We are dedicated to listening to communities, adapting our program as we go, and applying the best thinking.
We have a program for 3rd - grade and up that comes with an orientation, a planning meeting, and a volunteer training. There is also a simpler program for K - 2nd which comes with the option to have a materials kit ready to go!
We are open to doing free promotional events and presentations for local community groups once a month, and as always, we are continuously tailoring our activities to elevate their relevance and effectiveness while still keeping the program fun, flexible, and low cost.
Stay tuned for exciting new developments in the coming months, and share our URL with your favorite school principal, school counselor, teacher, librarian, or PTA rep! www.walkinmyshoesprogram.org
ID: The founder of walk in my shoes is standing in front of a white fence and a pine tree. She is smiling and has brown hair and a blue jacket.
NOVA friends, Top Soccer offers programs for kids with disabilities. Check them out:
TOPSoccer - Alexandria Soccer Association Recreation TOPSoccer TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers. The program is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any chi...
NOVA Friends, Beyond Sticks is starting an adapted field hockey program this spring! Here is their description of the program:
New this spring Beyond Stick is starting an adapted hockey program. This program is for elementary and middle school athletes with developmental delays such as down syndrome, severe autism, or intellectual disabilities. Come join us for a joy-filled and player-centered environment!
Our program director is an elementary school adapted learning specialist, and all coaches have background checks and have participated in the in-person training. Athletes will work in small groups with a low player: coach ratio, with each group having targeted learning objectives for each session and end-of-season goals.
All practices are one hour long and will take place at the Madeira School in McLean on Saturdays from 11am-12pm. Practice dates are: March 18th, March 25th, April 1st, April 15th, April 22nd, and May 6th.
Registration includes all sessions, a loaner hockey stick to use for the spring season, and a reversible pinnie.
For this program, we encourage and ask that parents or guardians stay close to the Madeira campus during practices, and if your child displays physical aggression, self-injury, or elopement we ask that you stay on the sideline during practices.
Adapted Field Hockey — Beyond Sticks New this spring Beyond Stick’s is starting an adapted hockey program. This program is for elementary and middle school athletes with developmental delays such as down syndrome, severe autism, or intellectual disabilities. Come join us for a joy filled and player-centered environment!
This is so exciting!
"Colin Denny, Troy Kotsur, and Justina Miles wants you to bookmark two different links to watch them perform at this Sunday!
-- Pre-Game show: bit.ly/SuperBowlASLPreGame
-- Half-Time show: bit.ly/SuperBowlASLHalftime
[VIDEO DESC & TRANSCRIPT: Justina Miles, Troy Kotsur, and Colin Denny stand together in front of backdrop.
TROY: Hi! Ready to watch us perform in sign language at the Super Bowl this Sunday?!
COLIN: How? It’s easy!
JUSTINA: Both links are included in this post!]"
Previously we've shared information from Beyond Awareness about how to choose books that are respectful of people with disabilities.
Due to popular demand, they put the same information in a convenient checklist: demandchrome-extensio://gphandlahdpffmccakmbngmbjnjiiahp/https://s3.amazonaws.com/kajabi-storefronts-production/file-uploads/sites/180918/downloads/641ea84-84a3-cd7a-6378-2a806c43d6d0_Beyond_Awareness_Book_Screening_Checklist_2022.pdf
Check out this list of disability-inclusive books from Disability Equality in Education:
Disability Related Book List — Disability Equality Education Disability Inclusive Book List These books have been peer-reviewed and recommended as a good representation of disability. Many titles have great lesson plans attached to them, others have read aloud videos.Find many of these books, and more, being read on our YouTube Read Aloud Playlist.This list i...
FCPS schools--you are eligible to apply for a SEPTA mini-grant to cover the cost of bringing Walk In My Shoes to your school! Deadline to apply is 2/15/23 (must be a SEPTA member to apply, but SEPTA membership for teachers and school staff is just $6 and joining SEPTA is so worthwhile!!).
Fairfax County SEPTA $500 Mini-Grant Application 2022-2023 **ROUND ONE SUBMISSIONS ARE DUE BY OCTOBER 15, 2022. ROUND TWO SUBMISSIONS ARE DUE BY FEBRUARY 15, 2023.** Fairfax County Special Education PTA is pleased to offer mini-grants of up to $500 for SEPTA member teachers or staff to implement programs, attend professional development, or obtain materials...
Accessible emergency services are a matter of life and death The accesSOS app is making emergency help accessible by text with a text-to-911 app. Learn how text-to-911 services are solving resource & accessibility issues.
This is it right here, this is what we're trying to do. These wonderful kids in Minnesota noticed that something was wrong. The kids pushed for a solution, and the kids made it happen! This is the power of teaching empathy and inclusion.
At Walk In My Shoes, we hope to inspire kids in a similar way. Our objectives are to increase knowledge, shift perspectives, and motivate the action of inclusion.
We now offer a K - 2nd program that specifically teaches the importance of accessible buildings, the importance of knowing what food allergies are present in the classroom so that class parties can be more inclusive, how to communicate with friends who have trouble discerning if you're kidding or serious, and how to be respectful of friends who are new to the country. Young children are capable of learning these concepts and excited to make a difference.
For more information on the Walk In My Shoes programs contact me at [email protected].
We do this work as an all-volunteer-run nonprofit and are dedicated to making our program flexible, effective, and fun.
We support schools by offering presentations, planning meetings, and training as key parts of program, and provide materials that support general education teachers, the key organizers of the event, and the parent and teacher volunteers who run the activities for the kids!
Click here to claim your Sponsored Listing.
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