Encouraging Dialogue, Respect and Inclusion
Our students never cease to amaze us! Among many achievements this year, four students from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program (DHH) deserve recognition for their leadership in fostering respect and awareness of our differences.
The “Understanding Our Differences” program is a model curriculum that aims to cultivate empathy and promote inclusion for people of all abilities, teaching young children to see the whole person and better understand the disability. This invaluable inititative has been embraced by the CAPS DHH program, with three exceptional students actively participating and making a positive impact.
This year, they’ve visited various Newton elementary schools to share their backgrounds and experiences with third graders. During these presentations, the younger children are given the chance to ask questions, encouraging an open dialogue about disabilities and inclusion. Our students’ willingness and eagerness to engage in these conversations helps breakdown stereotypes, foster connection and instills a sense of curiosity and acceptance in young minds. These sessions culminate with a vital question: how can these young students themselves be more inclusive in their daily lives?
“All three girls have done such a fantastic job and, as their teacher, being able to see them show their leadership skills, and their growing confidence and self-esteem has been nothing short of amazing.”
-Debbie Knisell, Teacher of the Deaf
Just as these three young women have taken the lead to advocate for themselves and their peers, fellow classmate and freshman Mikey R. has also been a powerful changemaker.
In 2020, Mikey was awarded the Outstanding Youth Advocate Award, recognizing his exceptional advocacy efforts on behalf of the deaf and hard of hearing community. Typically, this award is presented on Deaf/Hard of Hearing Constituents Day, but due to the pandemic, the awards ceremony was postponed. On May 18th, the celebration finally took place at the Memorial Hall Grand Staircase at the Massachusetts State House.
The awards ceremony was hosted by the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) Statewide Advisory Council. Awardees and guests were encouraged to use this event as an opportunity to talk to our legislators and educate them about community needs.
By taking on these important leadership roles, our students have become ambassadors of inclusivity, sowing the seeds of a more inclusive and compassionate society and paving the way for our future.