Northwest NEWS

June 15, 1998

Editorial

Inclusion of special needs children should be a priority

   Regarding the article in the June 1, 1998 Valley View about the Headstart program in the Riverview School District, we would like to add a few comments. Our daughter is "the one in the wheelchair" referred to in the article. For the record, she is a special, smiling, eager-to-learn little girl, who happens to use a wheelchair.
  
   She has really enjoyed going to school in the Headstart program this year. The other children are very friendly to her and accept her readily into their class. The staff at Headstart has worked diligently to include her in the many age-appropriate activities and to adapt the activities to meet her needs.
  
   The inclusion of disabled children in regular school programs has many benefits for both the disabled and the non-disabled children. The non-disabled children easily accept diversity in their lives from a young age. They grow up with the knowledge that people with disabilities are part of life, that they have many differences and many similarities. Disabled children benefit from a typical social and academic environment, which increases their learning opportunities and helps them prepare for their life in their communities.
  
   It is essential that all school districts, including the Riverview School District, make the inclusion of special needs children in typical classrooms a priority in order to provide a natural learning environment for all children.
   Nigel and Diane Lee, Carnation