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Inclusive Classrooms Versus Special Needs Classrooms: Which is Best for Your Child?

By Jenny Wise Like all parents, the parents of children with special needs are faced with their share of joys and challenges. One of the biggest questions to consider when raising a child with special needs is which education path to take. There are very polarized views in our society about how children with special needs should be educated. Of course, this is a deeply personal decision that deserves to be made by parents. It is a decision that should only be made after carefully considering what is best for their child’s unique needs and situation. While nobody can make the decision for you, there are some things you should consider to help ensure you make the best possible decision for your child. Perhaps the biggest questions parents struggle with: Would my child learn better from a specially trained instructor who specializes in special needs education or is it better to keep my child integrated with other students, including those who do not have special needs? One strong argument for placing your child in a special needs class is that the teachers of those classes have a strong professional background working with special needs students. This equips special needs teachers to better identify disabilities and to design custom-tailored learning curriculum for your child’s needs. Special needs classrooms also often have safe spaces specifically created to help children calm down during higher energy moments. However, some parents believe it is harmful to the special needs child to place them in their own separate learning environment. For many, it feels like segregation rather than equal education. As an alternative, inclusive learning environments are growing in popularity. In an inclusive learning environment, your child will be placed in a classroom with a variety of students (with or without special needs). Depending on your child’s needs, they may be able to excel in an inclusive environment, especially if they have the assistance of a trained service dog. And, of course, inclusive learning environments also always have trained special education teachers available in addition to a traditional regular education teacher. Unfortunately, not all cities have these inclusive classroom environments yet. Because inclusive education is still growing in popularity, even if you have inclusive classrooms locally, each classroom will vary greatly in methods, approaches, and the experiences of your child. Additionally, some schools only educate certain types of special needs students, such as those with mild disabilities. If your child has a moderate or more severe disability, there is a chance that he or she will still be placed in a separate special needs classroom - even in a so-called “inclusive” school. It also might be helpful to tour the school and meet potential instructors prior to making your final decision. Take note of classroom setup, the teacher’s background and experience level, and whether the classroom environment would be a good fit for your child. When it comes to children with special needs, a classroom with desks organized into small groups or “pods” can be a signal of an inclusive environment that allows abled and disabled students to work together in teams. It can feel overwhelming when you begin to take those first steps towards getting the proper education for your child with special needs. You don’t have to do it alone; there are support groups for families with special needs children, and the internet is full of helpful resources. With some research, some effort, and some soul-searching, you can find the best possible situation for your child.
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DSRF would like to thank our longtime partners at Kiwanis Vancouver, who have generously granted $3,000 towards our summer Chatter Camp and Music in Motion programs. We are so grateful for Kiwanis' investment in young people with Down syndrome!
Over 825 runners and 100 volunteers gathered together at Simon Fraser University on a spectacular Sunday morning to celebrate and empower individuals with Down syndrome at the 21st Annual Run Up for Down Syndrome. Those who were present were backed by an army of thousands of cheerleaders and supporters, united in their desire to see people with Down syndrome reach their full potential. The Run represented a major step in that direction, with a record-setting $115,000 (net) raised for educational programs at the Down Syndrome Research Foundation. Click here for the CTV News segment on Run Up for Down Syndrome. More than 40 local businesses lent their support to the cause, led by lead sponsor Euro-Rite Cabinets, whose 143-member team combined to raise over $41,000. "At Euro-Rite, our involvement in Run Up for Down Syndrome is a reflection of our 'We Care' philosophy," said Euro-Rite founder Bill Longman in kicking off the event. "We believe we have both the responsibility and the privilege of making a difference in our community, and we are honoured to work alongside the Down Syndrome Research Foundation to empower individuals with Down Syndrome to reach their full potential." There was no shortage of smiles as runners of all ages and abilities made their away around the race course. When they weren't running, participants were enjoying the Encorp Return-It Kidz Zone, two Science Magic performances by Care and Jordan, and scrumptious food courtesy of Burnaby Artisan Farmers Market, Ragazzi Pizza, Starbucks and Rainbow Ice Cream. Other major sponsors of the event included LiUNA (Western Canada), CTV Vancouver (whose Mike Killeen hosted the event, while his co-anchor Tamara Taggart ran on behalf of Team Beckett), Subway, AllWest Insurance, Pioneer Distributors, Spirit Ridge NK'MIP Resort and Woodhouse & Associates Inc. (Please see full list of sponsors at right.) Congratulations go out to our major award winners: Ainsley's Army (team fundraising award), Team Euro-Rite (team spirit award), Tamara Leslie ("Break the Internet Day" top fundraiser), Brent Diemert (fundraising draw), Madison Yonge (Classroom Challenge top fundraising child) and Jazmin Thurston (t-shirt design contest). A huge thank you to all the volunteers who made the 21st Run Up for Down Syndrome run smoothly, and to Simon Fraser University for being such gracious hosts. We extend our appreciation to emcee John Crosby, Yvamara Rodriguez Zumba, and mascots from Subway, the Vancouver Canadians and Encorp Return-It. Thank you as well to each and every runner, walker, team captain, corporate sponsor and donor. Together, we have made an immeasurable difference in the lives of many individuals with Down syndrome and their families. We look forward to seeing you again next year at the 22nd Annual Run Up for Down Syndrome! Please note: The Run Up fundraising website will remain open for donations until the end of June. To make a donation, click here.
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Down Syndrome Research Foundation
1409 Sperling Avenue, Burnaby
British Columbia, Canada
V5B 4J8

Fax: +1 604 431 9248
Phone: +1 604 444 3773