EMBRACE is an independent 501(c)3 organization started in 2016 to assist students with special needs in Catholic schools in the state of Kansas. This Association was conceived in 2005 by a group of dedicated, prayerful, and concerned parents of children with special needs, yearning for the opportunity for inclusion of their children in a Catholic school environment. EMBRACE’s goal is to support a learning environment within Catholic schools which embraces all learners, values every child and sees God’s Sacred Holiness in every unique individual.
The National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion was founded in 2015. At that time, less than 2% of all Catholic schools included students with intellectual disabilities in their parish schools. Students with physical disabilities were routinely turned away. There were zero inclusive college programs for these students at Catholic colleges or universities.
One Classroom was parent foundation founded in 2015 and is dedicated to supporting the over 100 Catholic grade schools and over 30 Catholic High Schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO. We have now helped 14 Catholic schools welcome children with special needs and we financially support eight schools.
Inclusive Catholic Education of Oregon (ICE), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was organized by group of concerned parents who believe that all our children benefit from inclusive practices in our parish schools. Parish schools across the United States are responding to the call to welcome persons with disabilities in all aspects of Church life, and foundations similar to ICE in California, Kansas City, and Washington DC are making positive changes for inclusion within their archdiocese schools.
The FIRE Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 organization, is an advocate and supporter of inclusive Catholic education in the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph in Missouri. FIRE makes grants to partner Catholic schools, making it possible for schools to hire special educators and paraprofessionals and to acquire learning materials and technology that create successful learning experiences for all children. FIRE also provides professional development opportunities for educators and education/support to parents (through Friends of FIRE).
What to Expect - Before Mass
More late arrivals than usual
Be patient and maintain a welcoming spirit.
More traffic / vans than usual
Use traffic cones to designate areas where cars and vans can pull over close to the church entrance to unload passengers. Schedule an usher/greeter to welcome and assist these guests.
Groups of guests with disabilities arriving from group homes or organizations
Expect greeting and seating to take additional time.
Schedule an additional usher (or recruit a friendly Mass-goer) to assist.
A questionnaire which asks for detailed information on the student's medical needs, communication skills, learning styles, physical considerations, and emotional needs.
When you think of accessibility, do you first see dollar signs? Are ramps and elevators the fix-all solution to accessibility? NO!!! Accessibility is much more than ramps and elevators. Accessibility is a new way of thinking and sometimes involves little or no cost.
A few strategies for teaching students with Autism Spectrum Disorder!