Morris School District Training
SNAP "Kindness Is Cool" Campaign:
Autism Speaks has selected SNAP as the recipient of their 2014 Family Services Community Grant.
This project aims to help put an end to bullying by educating students throughout the country with the e-Learning educational initiative “Kindness is Cool”. “Kindness is Cool” would pair an online, kid-friendly, e-learning series with hands-on, teacher-led modules that allow students (grades three to five) to experience what it is like to have a disability. The project is developing two courses (45 minutes each) for students to take prior to having the interactive training already successfully administered in schools across the country. Developing the courses online will also make the programs self-sustainable and allow us to reach more classrooms. The program started back in 2010 with funding from Autism Speaks. With the initial $13,000 Autism Speaks provided, SNAP was able to design our program, purchase all necessary materials, publish our training manual, and garner the necessary support to implement the hand-on trainings throughout New Jersey. Since then, the program model has only developed and grown stronger. With the help of educators, parents, teachers, and our incredible volunteers and board of directors, they developed the interactive training used across the country. Running now for three years, they have seen how children respond to our programs and have tailored the trainings to become interactive, interesting, and impactful. Not only has this initiative been proven successful in school districts, SNAP's programs have also trained first responders of the Millburn Police, Fire and EMS Departments on how to handle various situations involving individuals with special needs.
SNAP Interactive - School Trainings
The focus of SNAP is to incorporate a "children teaching children" model into all aspects of programming and create a culture of compassion for and acceptance of all children. Unfortunately, many children with autism feel isolated and ostracized on a daily basis. In New Jersey, 1 in 94 children are diagnosed with autism. With this rising statistic, the number of inclusion classes in school is also increasing. Education is key.
The school training workshop provides information on special needs as well as various disabilities, teaching students how to be a friend to children with special needs. The programs offer hands-on experiences to students in order to provide a feel for what having a disability is like. The training is done in all the K-8 schools in the Morristown school district and it is SNAPs goal to expand it to neighboring towns and counties. After completing this initial training, it is out hope that mentors will be empathetic to our cause, and will want to participate in other programs we will sponsor in the future such as our lunch-buddy program where a student or student without a disability will sit with someone with special needs in order to make everyone in the school feel important and cared for. We do not wish to make any of these additional programs mandatory, but we hope that the community fostered in the training program will create a culture of awareness and acceptance in the schools. When the training is completed we would provide students with descriptions of additional activities, and can integrate them into the District's programming at a later date. We have successfully trained over 1500 students in the Morris School District, in over four elementary and middle schools. Children have enjoyed these trainings, as it is interactive, but also extremely educational.
- Provide mentor trainings, programs, and opportunities for children that will lead them ultimately to understand and responsible adults who will advocate, educate, and/or employ people with disabilities.
- Create flexible, innovative, and collaborative approaches to inclusion that give children with special needs a sense of belonging and strong foundation of community.
- Increase empathy: A key to building a more empathetic, compassionate and accepting world for future generations begins with the mindset of mentoring and sensitivity we seek to instill in our children today.
- Students learn facts and information about autism and other disabilities,
- Students gain an understanding of what it is like to have a disability.
- Students experience disability modules/workshops of dyslexia, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities in coordination, visibility, and motor skills.
- Adult training
SNAP offers an adult training on autism and special needs. The training on characteristics and behaviors gives adults a better understanding of what they may experience on a daily basis.
Our organization has trained teachers of the Morris School District on how to work with special needs children.
SNAP has also trained the first responders (Police, Firemen, and Paramedics) of Millburn.