“Before Changing Perspectives, I used to think it was a bad thing to be disabled. I felt different. Now I think that it is ok to be different. It is ok to tell people about my disability.”
When I read these words, shared by a 6th grader at one of our 2015-16 partner schools, I got chills. Can you imagine how empowered this boy felt when he discovered that he didn’t need to keep his disability a secret, that his classmates might not just understand him better, but might also begin to recognize and celebrate their own differences? The empowerment that stems from empathy is our mission’s primary goal. But the empowerment is not just for one child; it is for all students and educators.
When Changing Perspectives (CPNE) launched in 2015, I hoped schools would see the tremendous value our program could have for their learning communities. That first year proved they would: Educators at 12 schools in Vermont and New Hampshire engaged 1,500 K-8 students with our standards-linked disability awareness curricula. Many of these schools have subscribed again for 2016-17. Last year, generous support from our funders also made it possible for CPNE to:
• Hire three new, part-time staff to help manage programs, increase program awareness, recruit new schools, explore grant opportunities, and build capacity
• Update and add new content and resources, including a video link library
• Redesign curriculum delivery to place all content online for subscribing schools
• Introduce e-portfolios to make content management more efficient for educators
Our second year is now underway, and based on last year’s successes, we have set some ambitious goals: (1) increasing school participation by 25%, (2) developing a high-school-level curriculum, (3) laying groundwork for pre-K curriculum and parent programs, and (4) continuing development of web-based tools and new content. To complete this, we need your help.