For a few years now, there has been an online movement to create a national Special Education Week in March. Although the movement has yet to take hold, we ask — why not?
There are lots of national awareness days, weeks, and even months. For instance, American Education Week is in November, and ADHD Awareness Month is in October, and National Teacher Day this year will be celebrated on May 6.
So why not then have a Special Education Week? Or a Special Education Teacher Day? Sure we can be included in more generic education celebrations, but why can’t our community have one time a year to honor those that do so much for children with special needs?
A Special Education Week would be a great opportunity to not only celebrate all the progress we have made to bettering our children’s education, but also to turn the attention of our country’s citizens and lawmakers to the issues in special education that still need to be addressed today.
And a Special Education Week does not have to be national to be a benefit. Something on a state, county or even more local level — even as simple as your city’s school district — can potentially have a huge impact in bringing much-needed awareness to the needs of special education, which in turn could possibly lead to funding and other assistance from community members.
So how does one work towards starting a Special Education Week? Here’s a few tips to get you started:
Plan Your Campaign
Once you’ve decided how big you want your Special Education awareness campaign to be, you will need to start putting together materials to promote your campaign and make the community aware. Materials can include posters, banners, press releases, a Facebook page — use your creativity! DoSomething.org has some great tips on how to get your campaign going, and 501Connect.com offers some strategies on promoting your project on social media. And if you’re really looking to spread the word about your awareness campaign, consider using an online campaign website like Causes or CrowdRise, both of which may also help you raise funding.
Talk to Parents & Teachers
Although it may not seem it, building an awareness campaign like this can take quite a lot of time. Make sure to talk to other like-minded parents to get their help and support so you can divvy up all the components of the project and not become overwhelmed. And 9 times out of 10, the special education teachers in your school district will want to help as well. Plus you don’t want to miss out on all the great ideas and feedback other parents and teachers can bring to the benefit of the campaign!
Talk to Lawmakers
Find out who your elected officials are and contact their office to make an appointment to come in and talk to them about your awareness campaign. If you live within close proximity of your state’s capitol, consider banding together with a group and hold a Legislative Day where you walk through your state’s capitol wearing T-shirts with your message to meet with elected officials. And don’t forget to bring some of your campaign materials to leave in the offices!