George Washington Elementary School highlights autism awareness throughout the month of April with special events and in-class activities. On March 30, the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education passed a resolution recognizing April as Autism Awareness Month.
Washington Elementary has a specialized program called Language Enriched Autism Program (LEAP) serving students in grades TK through five. Chandra Collins, Katie Brown and Debbie Gal are the teachers of the special day classes.
“In order to help raise awareness and understanding among all students, we celebrate Autism Awareness Month school-wide,” explained Collins. “April second is World Autism Awareness Day.”
On April 3, the nearest school day to April 2, students, teachers and staff at Washington were encouraged to wear blue, the color of Autism Awareness, in support. The school held activities to further awareness and engagement.
Each student was given a paper puzzle piece and encouraged to decorate it blue or with a picture or a message representing friendship, understanding and compassion, said Collins.
For the month of April, Washington Elementary hallways are decorated with all of the student-created puzzle piece artwork. A poster contest was also held.
School-wide, teachers show educational videos to their students with the goal of helping typical students gain understanding of their fellow students with autism.
The LEAP program teachers also take photos and make videos showing how the general education students can be helpful and play with students with autism.
“The students are encouraged to ask questions about autism throughout the month and the entire school year,” added Collins.
“We feel that by being given information, our entire school community will learn to be more empathetic and can teach their own families and friends about autism.”
The school community recently celebrated second grade student Michael Levonyan’s Best In Show award at the 2017 Burbank Youth Art Expo. Levonyan’s artwork was created while he participated in a mainstreamed art class during Washington’s annual Art Day.
On April 14, award-winning children’s band Rhythm Child returns to Washington Elementary with an interactive concert, highlighting diversity and acceptance, for the entire school. The concert is supported by the Washington Elementary PTA.