December 5, 2023

Every year I get so excited about my Disability Awareness Day!! It brings so much awareness to our campus, it’s so life-changing, and it’s so much fun for everyone! I recently wrote about this event last month and many of you have reached out to me about how you would like to organize your own Disability Awareness Day but don’t know where to start. So today I’m sharing with you everything you need to know to host your own event.

I have six stations. I number each station and place a large task card on each station with step-by-step instructions for each task they complete at that station. This also makes it very easy for your volunteers to help with follow up. I use clear plastic photo frames from the Dollar Tree for this, but you can also choose to tape numbers and task cards to the table.

Here is a preview of each station.

Students begin this station with a piece of sandpaper taped to the back of their shirt and must tolerate it for as long as they can.

Students practice communication using pictorial symbols and other means of communication only.

Static activity requires them to interact with their peers and try to focus on the activity while background noise plays in their ears. You can do this by putting on a radio station that is static only.

In this station, students will experience what it can be like to have an intellectual disability by completing a German test, the f’s test, and try to express themselves without using words. The mother working at this station told me upon arrival, “Oh, I don’t speak German.” And I said, “HaHa, that’s the point.”

In this station, students try to read a disorganized passage that simulates what a child with a reading disorder, such as dyslexia, might see as they try to read.

Students will also complete a “Brain Scatter” activity that challenges them to read a color, not a word.

It’s harder than you think!

This is always a favorite!

Students will practice signing phrases, learn how to sign their name, and try listening and conversing with cotton in their ears.

In this station, students will learn what it can be like to have a visual impairment by trying to copy a blurry passage from the board…

They learn about braille and make a braille name tag.

And they choose paper with a drawing task and try their luck in “Blind Drawing”.

At this station, students will see what it can be like to have a physical disability.

He struggles to walk up and down stairs and sit down with a meter stick to his leg.

Another activity requires them to open and close containers with only one hand, put on socks or gloves and try to pick up change.

This is optional and I did something new this year. Each participant received a cupcake at the end of the event. One of my moms and volunteers made this sign because we were hosting an event at WDSD this year.

She and I also made information tapes for all participants, but again, this is optional.

After the event, I gave my volunteers a small gift. It’s a memo cube, a $10 Kohl’s gift card, and an Autism Awareness heart. Again, optional, but I want my volunteers to know how much I appreciate them!

I have to brag a little here! This year, our event even made the front pages. Woohoo!

And 2 classes even wrote us thank you letters.

I get so many inquiries about this event from people who want to host their own. Since you may have many of the same questions, I’ve posted them here.

Q: What age groups is this event for?
A: I am organizing an event for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. I feel this is a good age for them to start understanding students with disabilities.

Q: How many students attend?
A: This year, 156 students from six different classes participated. This included two 3rd grade classes, two 4th grade classes, and two 5th grade classes.

Q: Do all students participate at once?
A: No, I will split the event into two sessions. It is morning and afternoon.

Q: How long is each session?
Answer: Each session lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Q: How long is each station?
Answer: Each station has 20 minutes, which equals 2 hours. The remaining 15 minutes are for my opening and closing remarks.

Q: How do you manage the stations?
A: As the students come in, I count them: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….and again until all the students are counted. They go to the station that matches the number they were given. Every 20 minutes I blow the whistle and the students rotate clockwise. I explain all this to them in my opening statement.

Q: Where are you holding the event?
A: I am hosting an event at our gym.

Question: Our students eat lunch in the gym. How did you handle it?
A: All students have lunch outside on this day.

Q: How did I get volunteers for each station?
A: I send home a letter to my parents a few weeks in advance. I only had two parents, volunteers, so my husband and best friend also worked at the station, and my two assistants worked at the other two stations. I also expect help from the teachers of the participating classes.

Q: Where are my students during the event?
A: My students are assigned to a station to assist with.

Q: What blue and yellow folders does each student have?
A: At the very first station, each student receives a sheet of 12×18 construction paper, which they fold in half and write their name on. They carry it from station to station to save all the activities they complete at each station.

Q: Where can I get the worksheets and activities you used?
A: All the signs, activities, parent letters and printables are available in my Disability Awareness Day kit here.

Q: What other materials do I need to gather for the event?
A: If you have my kit, the only other materials you will need to gather are sticks, masking tape, pennies, containers with lids, socks, blindfold, radio/listening center, sandpaper, tape, cotton balls, scratch paper, and pencils.

The kit also includes a pre-test and a post-test that teachers can administer to their students.

I hope you will consider hosting a Disability Awareness Day at your school to spread awareness, promote acceptance and reduce bullying. The result is simply amazing and touches so much!

I hope you find the information I’ve shared helpful in hosting your own event! Feel free to email me with any questions you still have that weren’t addressed here.

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