Each year the Westminster Lower School (pre-first through fifth grade) chooses an overarching theme for their students to focus on. “Building Relationship Across Differences” is the current theme, and that’s what brought together one fifth grade class with Frazer Center’s adult participants.
Westminster is a private school in Buckhead with a commitment of “creating an educational experience where bright, curious, motivated students who are nurtured by challenge can grow into leaders of conscience,” according to the Westminster website. To that end, all fifth graders are required to take a leadership and philanthropy course called Catapult in which they learn such things as how to work together and support each other, how to have conversations with adults, and general leadership skills.
As part of the class, each fifth-grade homeroom partners with a community organization. “The primary goal,” says Catapult instructor Stacy Chalmers, “is to generate exposure. The more opportunities they have to partner with people in the community, the better citizens they become.”
This year’s fifth graders are learning specifically about building relationships with people with disabilities, so Stacy reached out to Frazer Center to see what possibilities we could create from partnering together.
Tonja Holder, Frazer’s VP of Development, visited Westminster to talk to the class about her experiences of working with people with disabilities. She answered the students’ questions, and they brainstormed about what kinds of activities might be a good fit for everyone.
After consulting with Unondus Walker, Frazer’s Director of Adult Services, the first gathering happened recently at Westminster. The plan was to work in the garden together, but the weather prohibited it. Plan B drew no complaints—a pizza party with games.
The Uno competition was fierce. The giant game of Sorry had a lively circle of participants. And the more shy children and adults managed to find each other for some one-on-one matches of Jenga and Connect Four.
The next gathering will be at Frazer for a Valentine’s party. Westminster will host the Frazer Center adults a few more times before the end of the school year. “We might have a cooking class together,” says Stacy, “and hopefully we’ll be able to invite Frazer to a performance here on campus by Full Radius,” a dance company that brings together dancers with and without disabilities.
Regardless of the activities, we are confident that the adults and children are expanding their horizons, and we’re hopeful that these fifth graders will be instrumental in creating a more inclusive future.