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Lent is a beautiful time for catechists, students, our colleagues, and ourselves to focus on the beauty of the Incarnation and reality that all are made in the likeness and image of God. Download the resource below to incorporate ideas for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that address the topic of disability in your classroom.
1. Discuss the fact that words like “retard,” “jerk” and “idiot” are dated or derogatory terms for people with disabilities. When we use them now, we are not only being unkind to others, but we are stating negative opinions of them. Doing so takes dignity away from people who live important but sometimes invisible lives. Ask students to fast from using these words and to write a pledge, in their own words, stating why they will not use them anymore.
2. Ask students to consider fasting from competitive games at recess. Many adults with disabilities missed out on fun in childhood because they could not catch a ball, run fast, or jump high. Using a resource like Let's Play Together, have older students teach a new game to younger students.
3. Some persons with disabilities or specific illnesses cannot eat certain foods. These may be foods that include gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, or a number of other substances. Ask students (with parental permission) to follow one such diet for a day. What do they notice?
Activities for High School Students
1. The Student Council can host a weekly “movie night,” featuring shows that highlight a person with a disability. Examples: “Wonder,” “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” “A Patch of Blue,” “Children of a Lesser God,” “My Left Foot,” “Rain Man.” Donate money raised to a Catholic agency that serves persons with disabilities.
2. Develop a “Parents Night Out” program. Parents can have an evening out while their son or daughter with a disability enjoys an evening of fun activities. The diocesan disability ministry director can help with planning. If you charge a small fee, donate money to a Catholic agency that serves persons with disabilities.
1. Focus on the fact that giving one’s time and attention is often more valuable than giving money. Choose a Catholic organization that supports people with disabilities. Ask if your class can use Skype or Google Hangout to talk with members of the organization. Help the students create questions beforehand. Organizations might be Xavier Society for the Blind or Catholic Charities. You may also want to contact your diocesan office for persons with disabilities for ideas.
2. Ask your pastor to speak to the students about all the things the parish does so that people with disabilities can feel welcomed and be able to fully participate at Mass and receive the sacraments. Ask him if there is anything the parish needs in order to do more. The students might host a fundraiser and make a small donation to get the ball rolling.
3. Ask families to donate a children’s book to the school, parish or class library that has a person with a disability as a central character.