DuFief Celebrates Ability Awareness Week
DuFief Elementary School celebrated its 8th annual Ability Awareness Week (AAW) Nov.18–22. The weeklong program taught students that each person is special, despite differences or disabilities, and that everyone should be defined by what they can do (not by what they cannot).
The week included speakers, assemblies and activities. The week kicked off with a talk from Dr. Paul Wichansky who, despite having cerebral palsy and hearing loss, completed a Ph.D. in environmental science and meteorology from Rutgers University. He spoke about “Taking the ‘Dis’ out of ‘DisABILITY,” with a message of tolerance and overcoming adversity. Other guest speakers included: Kristina Ackley, a service puppy raiser with Canine Companions for Independence, who brought her newest trainee, Labrador retriever Heidi; Aaron Anderson, who has ADHD and is CEO of his own businesses, including one that helps children with special needs learn to swim, bike ride, run and tie shoes; Adrian Forsythe, who has Down Syndrome and is the advocacy programs specialist for the National Down Syndrome Society; Dr. Andrew Donald, who is deaf by birth and a dental surgeon; and Brooks Wetzelberger and Tyler Barberis, who have Tourette Syndrome and are ambassadors for the Tourette Association of America (Barberis is a DuFief alumnus).
Art, music and P.E. lessons during the week also focused on ability awareness. In P.E., the students participated in exercises that demonstrated various mobility challenges and watched videos of Paralympians. In music, students learned how music can be transmitted through vibration and watched videos of blind musicians; and in art, students drew their own “super ability” on a paper brick, and all the bricks came together to build a drawing of DuFief in a mural titled, “Everyone Has an Amazing Ability.”
The event was co-organized by the school and the PTA, and sponsored by the PTA.