Fourth and fifth grade students in Ms. Montague and Ms. Hamilton’s gifted program at Varner Elementary recently completed a unique study unit called “Making a World of Differences.” The unit focuses on the unique gifts, talents and challenges of individuals with disabilities. Through this study, students have not only gained a new respect and acceptance for those who have special needs, but they have also formed friendships and wonderful memories.
Throughout the unit, the children had the privilege to meet many wonderful people in the Varner community who are living their lives very successfully with a variety of disabilities. The students learned about different adaptive tools used by people with special needs and completed an extensive research project to discover ways to help people with disabilities.
In addition to the research project, the students incorporated a “buddy system” in which students would go into the classrooms or on the playground with students in Varner’s special education classes. Students read books together, play in social interaction, help with centers, assist in circle time, and much more. Through these special interactions together, the gifted students were amazed at the determination, passion and desire of their new buddies. To celebrate their buddies’ special abilities, the Target students planned an adaptive field day for them, dubbed A.C.E. Event 2008, which stands for Amazing Children Everywhere!
As part of the planning process, the students researched many different areas to learn how to set up adapted events and stations that would be beneficial for their new buddies, as well as allow them to participate and feel successful. Students collaborated to plan physical education activities in the first part of the day and sensory stations for the second part. The event began with the children marching in with their buddy while the Olympic March played in the background. Several chorus members sang the National Anthem and principal Ana Crommett cut the ribbon to begin the games. The event ended with a celebration for all of the participants which included a medal ceremony.
Varner’s Gifted department was very grateful to have many community members and businesses involved in the day’s events. McKenna Farms Therapy Services brought out miniature ponies for the children to pet and groom. Chick-fil-a at Macland donated chicken biscuits for our parent volunteers, and brought their cow mascot as part of the entertainment for the kids. Home Depot in Powder Springs provided plants and potting soil for sensory stations. Our parent volunteers also supported the event in more ways than one. The support of our community truly shined for this event.
Although the A.C.E. Event has ended, the relationships these children have made has not. The gifted students will continue working with their buddies and hope to inspire and encourage others to respect and accept those with special needs into their hearts and social circles.