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Palo Alto's 'sweethearts'

Original post made on Mar 4, 2013

Talia Rapoport and Arthur Garzon, center, along with fellow classmates from their third grade class at Barron Park Elementary smile as Tina Underwood, far right, and parents applaud the whole class as it is given a "sweetheart award" for its support of a classmate with autism. The award was given at a Feb. 25 reception hosted by the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education to honor community members for their help with special needs families.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 4, 2013, 1:51 PM

Comments (6)

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Posted by So fragile
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I hope with this full inclusion of special ed. students are not subject to bullying, teasing and harrassment as the other student did. Their are so adorable and fragile. Teachers, do not have eyes behind their backs, and it can happen, without them knowing. God Bless all our children, but more special ed. Kids.

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Posted by The unkindest cut..
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 4, 2013 at 6:10 pm

It is so true that special ed and learning disabled kids are sensitive and rather fragile. Day in and day out they suffer criticism, taunts, name-calling, and the impatience of parents, teachers and adults in general. It is rare that they hear praise, and rarer still that their strong traits ( kindness, sweetness, honesty, compassion) are ever recognized, much less credited.

As a parent, it is painful to watch all this. My son was oxygen-deprived at birth, did not breathe for ten minutes, and then suffered ear infections so severe that he was deaf for three years. None of this was his fault, but adults would act like he did not understand what they were saying when asking, " What is wrong with him?". He actually had a first-grade teacher throw a book at him in first grade ( another district). She gave in to frustration, but got away with this behavior because she was two months pregnant! That was another form of bullying!

I was glad to hear about Barron Park Elementary!

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Posted by Walter Underwood
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Mar 4, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Walter Underwood is a registered user.

The Palo Alto CAC has organized the Sweetheard Awards every year for the past nine years. This is a chance for special needs children and their parents to say thanks publicly. It is always a wonderful, happy evening.

I don't remember the number of people honored this year, but it is usually fifty, sixty, or more.

Let's all remember to say "thanks" more than once a year.

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Posted by Please do not use the kids
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I really hope the people at the middle where the OCR took place, did not get any awards. It is clear that they do not care about special ed. kids, so they do not deserve one. It is ridiculous tha CAC did the even, after they found out that it is not just the student in the OCR investigation who is getting bullied, but many other students are being bullied, actually they said 95 or 98%. Here is a poster that I saw on another article in Palo Alto on line, this mother does not like the sweethearts awards either. Whey do we have to say thank you to them for being nice ot our special ed kids, specialy when it comes to teachers, they are already getting paid for it.

Posted by softball mom, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, 6 hours ago

Disabled kids are not pets. As the mother of a disabled child I don't like using disabled kids as props or tools to showcase tolerance. I find the sweetheart awards to be paternalistic and offensive and also the wheelchair pushing license. Children in chairs are not pets and other kids shouldn't get awards for treating my son decently. Would you have an award for treating Jewish children nicely and accepting them? Today Tommy got an award for accepting the black child? Why aren't the black parents supporting the civil rights of the disabled? They were very vocal about A-G and disproportionality and a lot of non-minority parents came out to support that but now silence from the PNSC about an actual civil rights violation. I guess it's just every kid for herself in good old PAUSD.

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Posted by Eva
a resident of Barron Park School
on Mar 5, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I have twins in the 3rd grade class that was recognized at Barron Park. The event was very touching; it was wonderful to hear all of the stories of lives that have been positively influenced by caring teachers and students.

As mentioned in the article, my boys' class includes one child who has autism. This is the first time that most of the students have had such close, daily experience with a child with learning disabilities. In the beginning it was a bit of a challenge; now the child is not only accepted, but the kids fight over who gets to help him or do things with him.

The Sweetheart Award the class received had a big impact on the kids and meant a lot to them. And it also made me realize that with all of the bullying that kids with special needs are subjected to, early experience and understanding are very important. It's this positive interaction that will prevent future bullying and help kids understand the need to stop bullying if they see it happening.

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Posted by Walter Underwood
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Mar 5, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Walter Underwood is a registered user.

The Palo Alto CAC sponsors the awards. Every nomination was from parents of special needs kids for someone who had done something really special for their child.

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