In an effort to help boys develop empathy and compassion for children with special needs, Saint David's has partnered with Manhattan Children's Center, a school on the Upper West Side that provides treatment and education to children with autism. This fall and winter each second grade class will visit MCC six times, where our boys will have the opportunity to engage in activities with MCC students.
This week, educators from MCC are visiting Saint David's to help us prepare for our visits. Yesterday, the outreach director led a one-hour professional development workshop for teachers. She will return on Thursday to meet with each of the second grade homerooms, leading the boys in a discussion about ways we are all the same and ways we are different. Our boys will then engage in a partner activity in which they need to "turn their voices off" to communicate an idea to one of their classmates; this experience will help them to better understand helpful strategies for communicating with their buddies at MCC - such as repeating directions, being patient, or giving a high-five.
This new partnership with MCC provides our boys with an authentic opportunity to engage with children in our community who experience the world differently than they do. Instead of being wary of difference, our boys will learn to embrace it.