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Side by Side

C.S. Teitelbaum

What better way to teach children to have sensitivity toward others than to place them in a nursery “side by side” with special-needs children? Mishpacha Junior visited the nursery of “Side by Side” in Stamford Hill, London, which has just that objective in mind.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

About half of the children who attend Side by Side have special needs ranging from severe medical problems to mild learning disabilities. The school’s policy is not to differentiate between the mainstream and special-needs children. In turn, the children are oblivious to any differences in their friends. Each child is seen as an individual with his own set of capabilities and limitations.

Children have a natural sensitivity to others and it’s a precious sight to watch one child helping a less-able classmate drag a chair to the circle, or link hands with another child as they descend the stairs. The children are enveloped in a warm, supportive atmosphere where everyone is accepted and that itself ingrains them with sensitivity. Sometimes it is the physical appearance that would keep kids away from a special-needs child, but at Side by Side, the children grow up learning that “to be different is not to be naughty.” They view the special-needs children as friends, and look past the disabilities, which is a wonderful message to take with them later on in their lives.

 

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