Disability no barrier to lead

1 November 2011

A leadership program for children with learning disabilities in the Years 6-9 age range is having a profound impact on the participants.

Boys in leadership programThe YOU+ME=US program is a collaboration between The Hills School in Northmead and North Rocks Public School.

The Hills School caters for students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, sensory impairments and students with autism spectrum disorders.

Positive behaviour for learning

The program is based on the principles of PBL - positive behaviour for learning. Students had to demonstrate they could behave like a leader and strive to do the right thing to be part of the program.

North Rocks assistant principal Elizabeth Clark said  "We've seen an increase in levels of self esteem and changes in behaviour, and students who don't normally speak engaged in conversation.

"The leaders from The Hills School were not necessarily the best-behaved children. They were students that were social, but because they are social sometimes that leads to behavioural problems and with that comes inappropriate behaviour," she said.

Learning exchange

As part of the program students from North Rocks Public visit The Hills School each week and participate in an informal "Farm to Fork" lesson. This takes place on The Hills School Farm where the leaders help North Rocks students with planting, sorting, labelling, watering and harvesting.

Alternately students from The Hills School visit North Rocks once a week and participate in a mathematics lesson. This lesson requires The Hills School leaders to be prepared with a specific numeracy game that they instruct, assist and participate in playing. The students also interact through connected classroom lessons.

She said parents from both schools had also met through the program.

"We brought our parents from North Rocks over to The Hills School and the students prepared lunch for parents to eat and those things were all picked from the farm," she said.

"The Hills parents are very excited their child is participating in a leadership program and are developing positive relationships with other people."

The schools are also looking at involving regional schools in the program.

Photo supplied by North Rocks Public School.

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