Spotlight: What Does Inclusion Look Like for Your PTA?

May/June 2024

This month in our “Spotlight” feature, Council Area VP Heather Colomb collected some highlights on how some of our local PTAs are building inclusive practices into their programming and services.

SpotlightWhat does inclusive education look like at your school? For PTAs across the Lake Washington School District, innovation and thoughtfulness have helped to make PTA events and activities more accessible and inclusive than ever before. By supporting access to events and making events more comfortable for all students, we help build community and connection. Looking for ideas on how you can make your events more inclusive? Read on! From “quiet corners” to special education groups, LWPTSA Council member PTAs and PTSAs are leaving no stone unturned to make PTA programming welcoming and accessible to all!

At Keller Elementary, every PTA event hosts a Quiet Corner where students can take a break from the stimulation of activities. The Quiet Corner is a place with drawing materials, Legos, sensory tools and headphones. Keller PTA partners with the school’s special education teachers to create a space where all students feel comfortable. They also provide financial support to create and maintain Calm-Down Bins for each classroom and learning space. The bins include an assortment of fidgets, timers, putty, headphones, breathing exercises, zones of regulation information and non-verbal emotional regulation tools. Each shared space also has a bin with weighted blankets and sensory socks, yoga ball seating and bands. By providing access to regulatory tools for all students, Keller has helped normalize the use of learning tools and reduce barriers for students of all abilities.

Blackwell Elementary PTSA has worked to incorporate inclusive practices in all of their major events by providing early access to families to help reduce crowds and providing headphones and sunglasses to help limit visual and auditory stimulation. They provide a Chill Room as well as movement areas to support sensory needs and are building a buddy program to develop mentors for students. Blackwell PTSA keeps ice and crunchy snacks available as well as creating Social Stories to help students prepare for events. By intentionally developing programing to support all students, Blackwell has made it possible for their school to be a place where all are welcome!

Redmond Elementary PTSA has been working hard to make their school more friendly to neurodivergent students. They have developed a school-wide Special Education Group that works to connect families and offer support as they navigate the educational system. Their newly formed group has been a great support to families and continues to grow in participation. We can’t wait to see how it shapes the future for all students! 

Thank you, PTAs and PTSAs, for all you are doing to help make these spaces welcoming and safe for students. We would love to hear what your PTA is doing to help make all school events and activities inclusive and welcoming for all types of learners!