Accessible Outdoor Trails in Western MA

Accessible Outdoor Trails in Western MA

With the last stretch of summer upon us and fall around the corner, there are still tons of outdoor activities to take part in! Both summer and fall are great seasons for walking and hiking on trails and mountains. Did you know that the Pioneer Valley is home to a number of trails which are designed for persons with disabilities?  Read the rest of this entry »

Sprout Film Festival Bring Neurodiversity to the Big Screen

Sprout Film Festival Bring Neurodiversity to the Big Screen

On Sunday, February 28, 2016, Whole Children brings a new film festival to the Pioneer Valley. The Sprout Film Festival aims to make the invisible visible by bringing a collection of films featuring people with developmental and intellectual disabilities to the big screen. Featuring films both entertaining and memorable, Sprout explores neurodiversity and spotlights an ever-present but infrequently artistically explored experience.

Held from 4-6pm at Amherst’s Converse Hall, the festival is appropriate for most ages (audience skills necessary!), and stands out amongst local film festivals in its unique focus: rather than spotlighting artistry and creativity in film, the festival intentionally sheds light on the experiences of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and invites conversation about community inclusion. After the film, families can stay for a discussion with festival curator and local filmmaker, Ted White – older festival-goers in particular can benefit from this opportunity to hear more about the reasons for the films’ inclusion in the Sprout Film Festival.

The festival connects to a theme of late-winter explorations of film through community-based educational opportunities. Additionally, the Sprout festival encourages families to explore the ways in which people with disabilities of all kinds are included in our society. Using resources recommended in our recent Resources for Learning About the Experiences of People With Disabilities, families can explore neuro- and physical diversity so as to build empathy and understanding for the differences between their own life experiences and those of others.

Resources for Learning About the Experiences of People With Disabilities

Resources for Learning About the Experiences of People With Disabilities Encourage Families to Learn About the Human Experience

Throughout life, the experiences that we have amongst others allow us to learn about the human experience. At any age, we are able to make observations about others’ appearance and actions, and to gain insight (however basic or complex it may be) by processing these observations. Sometimes, our understanding of the life experiences of others is limited, though. By filtering everything we see and hear and contextualizing it within our own perspective on the world, we make meaning of our observations – but often, the things that we learn by watching and interacting with others lack input from the perspective of another. We do our best to understand those around us, but without considering their appearance and actions from another perspective, our understandings are limited.

In order to support children in developing a critical understanding of the experiences of others, families can engage in meaningful learning surrounding the experiences with physical and cognitive disabilities. By utilizing books, videos, podcasts, and both online and community-based educational resources, families with children of any age can begin to examine the experiences and perspectives of those with disabilities.

Spotlighting the abilities and life experiences of children, teens, and adults with diverse abilities, the resources highlighted below offer families support in digging deep into the experiences of people with physical and cognitive disabilities, as well as their family, friends, and fellow community members. While our suggestions for such studies certainly do not cover all of the physical and cognitive disabilities that members of our local community experience, they offer families a place from which to begin examining the experiences of others. Read the rest of this entry »

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