Participation in shared activities is one of the building blocks for creating natural supports. School is one setting in which students with and without disabilities have the opportunity to engage in shared activities, whether it is in the classroom or in extracurricular activities. When setting up an activity, it is important to ask three questions:
- Are youth with and without disabilities in the same space?
- Are youth with and without disabilities there at the same time?
- Are youth with and without disabilities doing the same activity?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, then activities are not truly shared and real relationships are less likely to develop.
You can watch a video below of youth involved in a variety of Shared Activities.
To view video with closed captions, press on the video above.
Here is one way to help determine if shared activities are occurring in several different environments of your school: Activity: Reflecting on your school (PDF). Students can place a thumbs up if this is always the case, thumb to the side if this is sometimes the case and place a thumbs down if this is never the case. Feel free to change the Environments to better reflect your school.
Now, debrief: Are shared activities occurring in your school and community? Here are some guiding questions:
- What activities tend to be truly shared? What activities are not shared?
- Are students with particular disabilities more often left out?
- What changes could be made to have more shared activities?
If you discover that youth with and without disabilities are not truly sharing activities, here are some suggestions:
- Brainstorm changes that you could make in your community to create shared time, space, and activities!
- Remember: Your project is a great start, but it takes lots of shared activities over a long period of time for natural supports!
Below are completed posters of how eight high school teams rated their high schools on whether the schools provide shared activites.
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