Redefining “Normal”: Inclusive Schools Week 2011

Author Andraéa N. LaVant

By: Andraéa N. LaVant, Inclusion Specialist, Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital

Normal. It’s a word that’s tossed around ever-so-lightly, as if everyone knows exactly what it’s supposed to mean. “Is that normal?” “She’s not normal.” But what really is “normal?”

This week, students, parents, and teachers across the globe are setting aside time to “redefine normal” as part of Inclusive Schools Week (December 5-9). Throughout this week, educators, students, and families will come together to celebrate the progress of those who’ve worked to make their schools more inclusive. The week also provides a space for schools and communities to discuss inclusive education and plans for the future. Ultimately, this serves as a time for communities as a whole to begin or continue the journey toward providing a quality education to all children regardless of differences in ability, gender, ethnicity, language and health status.

The Inclusive Schools Network (ISN), sponsor of Inclusive Schools Week, has come up with a variety of ways for young people, their families, and schools to celebrate the week. This includes joining the I am Norm ( campaign, as they encourage people to host their own “I am Norm Days” in their schools or with programs like Girl Scouts. The I am Norm Resources page provides templates for a “Norm-tag,” which allows students to fill-in their names and something that makes them unique, and then proudly wear their tag around school for the week.

Additionally, GSCNC invites its troops to participate in the Including ALL Girls initiative, which educates girls about inclusion and how they can include girls with disabilities in all aspects of Girl Scouts.  As part of the initiative, the Including ALL Girls patch program is designed to heighten Girl Scouts’ awareness, understanding and acceptance of people’s differences and disabilities.

For other ideas on how to celebrate Inclusive Schools Week, be sure to download the 2011 Celebration Kit (PDF).

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