North Texas Elementary Schools Can Now Sign Up for In-Person
Field Trips for the Fall 2021 School Year
To Be Like Me (501 c 3), a Dallas-based disability awareness program, resumes open-enrollment for in-person, interactive school field trip experiences. Beginning today, North Texas elementary schools can sign up for the 2-hour interactive field trip at https://tobelikeme.org/our-program to secure a spot. The field trip program, which has been running virtually during the pandemic, will resume in-person programming in September 2021.
“Children with disabilities are 2-3 times more likely to be bullied in school. This happens because of an overall lack of understanding or even interaction with students who have a disability,” said Hollis Owens, Founder and Executive Director for To Be Like Me. “With empathy down 40% in students who have entered college since 2000, schools need resources to help build social and emotional learning (SEL). Our program does just that by hosting interactive educational experiences taught by our Leaders who are currently living with a disability.”
For many students who are not exposed to people with a disability on a regular basis, or at all, the To Be Like Me school field trip offers a place to meet, connect, and ask questions in a judgement-free environment. Through meaningful conversations with the To Be Like Me Leaders, and through experiences designed to shift perceptions, school-aged kids develop greater empathy and learn how they can be more inclusive and help build a more inclusive community.
“Research shows a remarkable positive correlation between students’ empathetic understanding and their academic performance,” said Toya Harris, Director of Education and Programming for To Be Like Me. “Our program includes an accompanying curriculum that aligns closely with the core pillars of SEL that many schools are required to teach. One of the pillars of SEL that To Be Like Me teaches so effectively is social awareness. Defined as the ability to to take the perspective of and empathize with others, social awareness is an important skill for all students to learn and sets them up for success both now and in the future.”
To Be Like Me, a 2021 United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Social Innovation Accelerator Finalist, employs people with a disability or difference who lead the interactive experience. The program Leaders share their stories, answer questions and provide disability awareness education to school-aged children, graduate programs and special groups. These experiences impact future interactions, spread empathy and create a more collaborative and inclusive environment.
“Inclusion, when done correctly, is beneficial for all. In fact, empathetic students are better able to create and manage successful relationships throughout their lives,” said Andrea King, Director of Development for To Be Like Me. “Our two-hour field trip is $10 per student though scholarships are available for qualifying schools. That is a small price to pay for the ripple effect of increased empathy, kindness, and compassion To Be Like Me brings to classrooms, schools, and communities. ”
Fall field trips will be held at the Tolleson Family Activity Center (5817 Hillcrest Ave, Dallas) on Wednesdays between 9-11 a.m. and 12-2 p.m., (alternate dates are occasionally available) beginning September 22, 2021. The two-hour interactive experience educates on nine different areas of disability and will follow COVID-safe regulations set by Dallas county and the respective school district. Each program accommodates approximately 80 participants. For more information about To Be Like Me and to sign up for programs/classes, please visit: www.ToBeLikeMe.org
About To Be Like Me
To Be Like Me (501 (c) 3) is a non-profit disability awareness organization that offers programming designed to break down barriers and foster compassion. Based in Dallas, Texas, To Be Like me empowers people who have disabilities by providing employment and a platform to share their individual stories and advocate for others. The program provides opportunities for participants to interact with and learn from people living with disabilities, with the intent to not only provide education but build empathy, understanding and inclusion. To Be Like Me offers both in-person and online interactive programming led by people living with disabilities. The message shared by To Be Like Me Leaders (people living with disabilities) is one that is valuable to every person in every community. For more information about To Be Like Me and to sign up for programs/classes, please visit: www.ToBeLikeMe.org