Disability Awareness Week unites Jackson public, private schools

Monday, October 5, 2009

The public and private schools in Jackson will be teaming up next week to raise awareness of people with disabilities.

Jackson, Immaculate Conception and Immanuel Lutheran schools will recognize Disability Awareness Week from Oct. 12 to 16 with different activities. Jackson Mayor Barbara Lohr, Rep. Scott Lipke and the Cape Girardeau County Commission passed resolutions and proclamations recognizing the event. October is National Disability Awareness Month.

Organized by the Parent Partnership Council in the Jackson School District, this is the second year for the event and the first to include the private schools.

Immaculate Conception principal Tami Nenninger said school activities will coincide with the school's Respect for Life Week. She said students will be participating in activities like a blindfold shoe search and painting by holding a toothbrush with their teeth.

She said the event is an example of how public and private schools regularly work together.

"It helps build the community," she said.

At Jackson schools, students will participate in adaptive art and physical education classes as well as poster and essay contests, said Traci Ritter of the Parent Partnership Council. High school drama students will perform skits for all the schools.

There will be a family night at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at the middle school. Students and their parents will be able to try adaptive art equipment, watch a district-made video and experience simulations, she said.

"Our goal is to make sure all children are included and a part of their community," Ritter said.

The schools will also participate in fundraising activities to help fund an adaptive playground at Cape Girardeau County Park. Ritter said the Jackson McDonald's will donate 10 percent of its income between 4 and 8 p.m. Oct. 13 to the playground.

Andrea Cunningham said she has raised about $10,000 toward the playground project, which she said would cost between $450,000 and $500,000.

She said she got the idea after taking her daughter Melaina to the playground. Melaina had nemaline myopathy, a muscular disorder. She died when she was 3 from complications from the disorder.

Andrea said when her daughter was younger she carried her around the play equipment.

"We thought there had to be a better way to be accessible," Andrea said.

The playground will include transfer stations, ramps and sensory components. She said children with disabilities will be able to play side-by-side with others.

"They want to be up there, too, they just don't do it the traditional way," she said.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

614 E. Adams St. Jackson, MO

300 S. Hope St. Jackson, MO

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