For the past two years, the Coeur d’Alene School District has sponsored a writing contest in honor of Autism Awareness Month.
This year, the district is expanding the contest to address all disabilities and to encourage students from throughout the community to participate – even if they don’t attend a district school.
“Twenty percent of all people have a disability of one type or another,” said Diana Gifford, director of special education for the school district. By expanding the contest, Gifford said the district hopes to “encourage children to learn about and teach others about disabilities.”
Students who have entered essays in the two previous years have often focused on a friend or classmate with a disability. “They talk about how their friend is just like them,” Gifford said, “how they are more alike than different.”
Students are encouraged to use “people first” language in their writing. Gifford said that means referring to a person first, instead of a disability.
An example of “people first” language is saying “a person with a disability” or “a person who is blind” instead of disabled or blind.
Students in grades K-12 can submit essays of 300 words or fewer, which will be judged by two volunteers from outside the district. Everyone who participates will receive a certificate, and prizes will be awarded at each grade level. Entries will be judged according to the state curriculum writing standards.
Teachers or parents can submit entries to the Department of Special Education at the Coeur d’Alene School District Central Office, 311 N. 10th St., Coeur d’Alene. The deadline for entries is March 21. Each entry must include the student’s first and last name, grade level, teacher’s name, school, parent’s name and indicate if there’s parental permission to publish the student’s entry.
For more information, or to donate prizes, call (208) 664-4433.
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