A heartwarming video filmed during recess at a North Carolina elementary school is serving as a lesson of how important inclusion and acceptance are for children and, ultimately, the community as a whole.
Every day, fifth-graders at Topsail Elementary School in Hampstead, North Carolina, share recess with third-grade students in the school's Exceptional Children's program (EC), which is dedicated to ensuring that students with disabilities can develop intellectually, physically, and emotionally.
A significant component of the school program’s success is an emphasis on inclusion, something that employees at Pender County School District discuss a lot.
"[Inclusion] is a huge deal," Alex Riley, communications coordinator for Pender County Schools tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "We talk about acceptance. We talk about inclusion. We talk about making everyone feel welcome and feel equal."
On Thursday, a fifth-grade teacher was able to capture a moment when the lessons the district’s teachers and administrators have been teaching were put into action by students.
In a video shared on the school's Facebook page, a group of fifth-graders are seen including an EC student, Francis Veras Espinal, in a game of basketball. The group cheers on the younger student as he sets up a fifth-grader for a jump-shot. After the basket is made, Espinal was met with high-fives from his teammates.
This isn't a one-time occurrence at Topsail Elementary. A photo, taken just the day before the video was filmed, shows another group of fifth-graders, including Espinal and another EC student, in a game as well.
"These are moments where you start to see some of that talk [of acceptance] come to reality, which is a pretty amazing feeling," Riley tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "Our kids are taking what they’re hearing and putting it into practice, and the world gets to see."
Focusing on inclusion can help make differences seem less different, and, as a result, students learn what is necessary for a community to thrive. Coming together as a community is something that students in Pender County saw first hand.
"We are part of North Carolina that really got hit the hardest by Hurricane Florence last year, so we have kids throughout the county who are still living in FEMA trailers," Riley says. "They’ve had a real-world education on what it means to be a community and to have to stick together.”
In September 2018, Hurricane Florence caused extensive damage to North and South Carolina. A year later, the community of Pender County is still attempting to recover and rebuild.
"No one could get in or out of our area because of the flooding,” Riley explains. “We were kind of on our own for a little bit of time, and it really did bring a lot of people closer together. It made you realize you needed your neighbor. [The video] is maybe an example of what it looks like to have that mentality."
The video shared by the school was aptly captioned: "Some lessons can't be taught in a classroom..."
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