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With a Little Help from My Friends.

With A Little Help From My Friends

The video With a Little Help From My Friends present says the schools can help all students become equal, respected, and cared about members of regular education classes. This concept is described as the development of an inclusive community where everyone belongs. It focuses on the reentry into the mainstream of school life of those individuals who have severe disabilities and have been separated from the regular population of students.

The video was produced by the Waterloo Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board, The Ontario Association for Community Living, and the Center for Integrated Education in Canada. The Executive Producers were Marsha Forest and George Flynn. The philosophy of the school system on which the video is based is that all children belong and that the school is a critical force in the development of an "inclusive community" in which all individuals, regardless of their differences and needs, are inherent part. In the tape, the Director of Education for the school board, George Flynn, articulated this philosophy when she stated that

Education was never intended to restrict or reject. It was always intended to liberate, enlighten and examined unexamined life. The purpose of the educational approach being used is to bring all people together in the educational process to learn from one another and share: adults and children in learning in an inclusive community.

This philosophy and the application of it to classroom and school activities is discussed from the perspective of all involved. Included are the views of students, both those who were already in the mainstream and the new members just entering or being included; teachers; parents and family members; support staff; and both school and central office administrators.

The video sequence is divided into four segments. The first is a 3-1/2-minute introduction to the background and progression of the philosophy of an "inclusive community" reflected in the video. The second segment is labeled "Visions" or Part I, which consists of a 22-minute interchange among involved individuals, including students, administrators, and teachers. It focuses on why an inclusive community is desirable and how having an inclusive community in their school has influenced their lives. The 18-minute third segment, Part II, is labeled "Let's Talk" in which adults and children discuss the benefits of developing an inclusive community in which all people are welcomed and worthwhile members. Part II primarily centers around one student, May, who had previously been in a segregated setting apart from her age peers, and her entrance into the inclusive community of the regular classroom. Both difficulties and successes for all class members are discussed. Part III, May's Map, describes in a 17-minute segment a seven-step strategy used to help May, her classmates, teachers, friends, family and other school personnel understand and determine appropriate objectives and a plan of action to follow to ensure that May's needs are met in the regular classroom.

Throughout several of the segments. Judith Snow, an advocate for an inclusive community, does a clear and insightful job of introducing and synthesizing key concepts inherent in the process of coming together into an inclusive community in the regular education classes. Also throughout this video the struggles, fears, and uncertainties that come with change and facing the unknown are clearly articualted by both the children and adults. Likewise, ways they successfully worked through and overcame these challenges were described.

The insights from children and adults throughout this video sequence were overpowering. In describing what was learned in their inclusive community classroom, one student stated that she and her classmates learned that a student who was previously excluded and joined their class "is an actual person like anyone else, not just someone we are supposed to be nice to." A principal spoke of the reluctance and fear of parents when all students were first included in regular classrooms and how, with the experiences they and their children had, the reluctance and fear just dissipated. According to one administrator questioned about barriers to an integrated, inclusive community being developed within a school, "people will clearly say there are barriers and there are. But the barriers are not buildings, barriers are not books, barriers are not children who cannot read, the barriers are in peoples' minds." Another educator stated, "Children are our future. Wouldn't it be a great tragedy if any one of them were resisted or rejected?" When asked what they thought about students with severe disabilities, one student stated, "Since I became friends with Richard (a student with severe disabilities), we are always talking and fooling around and [pause] like [pause] they are no different from the rest of us [pause] just on the outside." Another student said, "When May (a student with severe disabilities) joined our class we didn't know her or what to do, but now we know she is really just a nice person." Finally, a teacher explained, "If you believe these children belong in your classroom, you can work around any hurdles."

Bringing all these things together in the video With a Little Help From My Friends clearly and practically reveals how the concept of an inclusive society is not only an equitable movement, but also a benefit to everyone involved and demonstrates how it can be accomplished in regular education schools and classrooms. It is an excellent portrayal of the challenges a school and individuals must face if we truly are to accept all individuals as equal, inherent members of our regular neighborhood schools. We highly recommend that it be viewed not only by educators, but by all community members. However, it should be noted that there is so much information and depth of understanding packed into this hour of material, the viewer cannot expect to get the full impact this video has to offer with merely one viewing. Every time we watched the tape, we saw and learned something new, with, we are sure, much more left to offer us in future viewings.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Stainback, Susan; Stainback, William; Guglielmo, Matthew J.
Publication:Exceptional Children
Article Type:Video Recording Review
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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Next Article:Learning Disability: Social Class and the Construction of Inequality in American Education.

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