December is often known as the “reason for the season.” Many holidays are celebrated near the end of the month and have spiritual affiliations. These holidays, including but not limited to Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza, have a special place in the hearts of many from around the world. In addition to these commonly known celebrations, there are other events and holidays that are celebrated in our communities and across the world during December as well.
Many of these themes are centered around uplifting people to be included, inspired, and have the rights and freedoms they deserve. International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Inclusive Schools Week, and International Human Rights Day all deserve to be recognized and appreciated for the impact they have made for so many over the years. Let’s dive into their history and hear from some of the staff members of Northern Pennsylvania Regional College about the importance of these holidays and happenings.
International Day for Persons with Disabilities
International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is a United Nations (UN) declared holiday that occurs each year on December 3. Since 1992, the holiday has been celebrated in many parts of the world, but the quest to acknowledge, assist, and encourage the individuals in this community has been ongoing for decades. This day each December is focused on promoting the rights and well-being of individuals with disabilities at each level of society and development.
NPRC strives to create an accessible and welcoming community for all, with the college providing individualized accommodations to students who need equitable educational access. The disability support services staff members are available to speak with students wishing to explore collegiately appropriate accommodations. “One thing that makes NPRC’s Student Services Department so special is that we meet students where they are in their life’s journey and individualize ways to support them to success,” shared Monica Schloder, the college’s Assistant Director of Disability and Career Services. “International Day of Persons with Disabilities allows us to take purposeful pause and acknowledge the unique characteristics that make people who they are. As a division within the Student Services Department, the Office of Disability Support Services is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive college environment that values diversity and is universally accessible to all. We aim to provide resources and support to students and teach them to advocate on their own behalf.”
Inclusive Schools Week
Inclusive Schools Week (ISW) is an annual event held each year during the first full week in December. Since its inception in 2001, the week has celebrated progress that schools have made in providing quality education and support to an increasing number of diverse populations. One of the most common activities throughout the week includes teaching young children about what disabilities look like and what each person can do to help those who may need it. Though there are still instances of not being inclusive in schools, there is a significant amount of progress to acknowledge.
To ensure our classrooms are inclusive, NPRC uses the Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This proactive approach to curriculum and classroom practice ensures the greatest number of students can benefit without the need for adaptations or modifications. In academic courses, NPRC encourages UDL practices that may include time-and-a-half allotment for all quizzes and exams, formatting of class materials such as slideshows or handouts to meet or exceed all ADA standards of accessibility, and the recording of class sessions that may be viewed by all students for enrichment or review.
NPRC’s Director of Applied Studies and Instructor for Early Childhood Education, Leigh Anne Kraemer-Naser, shared about UDL and why implementing this in every NPRC classroom is important. “What I love perhaps the most about UDL is that it removes the stigma of differences while promoting an inclusive classroom environment. We don’t recognize a ramp as an unfair advantage for an individual in a wheelchair; it is available for use by anyone in the space regardless of need. The same can be said for providing lectures notes or an outline to a class. It’s necessary for one student, but valuable for all.”
International Human Rights Day
The United Nations General Assembly in 1948 came together to declare the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document was drafted by delegates from diverse cultural and legal backgrounds from all over the world and was created to declare for the first-time fundamental human rights to be universally protected.
While many countries did not attend the meetings or accept the final document, 48 nations voted to adopt the document. Though some countries have gone through changes and no longer support this document, the impact it made is undeniable. Over 20 African nations were able to gain independence in the years following the signing of this document, with many of those nations adopting parts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in their own government framework.
Since 1950, International Human Rights Day has been celebrated by many countries and organizations throughout the world. This milestone has helped billions of people live a better quality of life, but there is still work that can be done throughout the world to help those in need. Fortunately, we live in a country that provides a great deal of basic human rights and is one of the world leaders who fight for human rights for all.
There are many days in the month of December dedicated to helping people feel included and welcome. We are proud that NPRC is intentional in providing an inclusive, welcoming environment for all in the region we serve and look forward to the opportunity of helping more individuals take a positive step in their careers and lives.
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