Our Programs

 

It's OK to be Different is one of the most in-depth tools for teaching empathy, understanding, and kindness to preschool through middle school aged children and is incredibly rich and unique. It is a comprehensive, flexible program featuring six literature based units that are easily woven into the curriculum in age appropriate succession:

Building Friendships: Be a Buddy Not a Bully

(Pre-K/Kindergarten)

This unit sets the stage for the rest of the It's OK units but can be presented on its own. Through exceptional children's literature, interactive activities and meeting people who relate their personal experiences, children learn what it takes to have a friend, be a good friend and how to handle teasing and bullying.  Be a Buddy Not a Bully demonstrates respect for individual differences and encourages inclusiveness.

Building Friendships: Be a Buddy Not a Bully begins addressing the mandated NJDOE anti-bullying prevention at the earliest grade levels. Its positive focus on friendship and diversity provides age appropriate references for young children which lays the critical groundwork for diffusing bullying in upper grades.

15 Lessons (3 Sections/5 Lessons per section): Each lesson begins with an age appropriate book followed by an accompanying activity.

 

Understanding Disabilities  

(1st/2nd Grades)

This unit is designed to give students a greater awareness and appreciation of individual differences. By exposing students to the realities of various physical disabilities through powerful empathy-building exercises, they are given a sense of the daily challenges disabled people meet. Children have the opportunity to experience what some of the disabilities may be like and meet community members who live with them.

The emphasis is on making both the disabilities and the people who have them very real and personal. This unit puts the spotlight on what people with disabilities CAN do, how they have adapted to every day life and the fact that everyone has unique strengths and challenges. 

9 Lessons (Book, Hands-on Empathy Building Activity and Speaker for each topic listed below)

Visual Impairment

Hearing Impairment

Physical Disabilities

 

Respect For Different Learners 

(2nd/3rd Grades)

This unit is designed to give students a greater awareness and appreciation of individual differences. By exposing students to the realities of various disabilities through powerful empathy-building exercises, they are given a sense of the daily challenges disabled people meet. Children have the opportunity to experience what some of the disabilities may be like and meet community members who live with them.

The emphasis is on making both the disabilities and the people who have them very real and personal. This unit puts the spotlight on what people with disabilities CAN do, how they have adapted to every day life and the fact that everyone has unique strengths and challenges. 

12 Lessons (Book, Hands-on Empathy Building Activity and Speaker for each topic listed below)

Learning Disabilities

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Developmental Disabilities

Autism Awareness

 

Celebrating Cultures  

(3rd/4th Grades)

This unit continues to reinforce the philosophical idea that personal exposure to individual differences in people leads to understanding of racial and ethnic differences. Celebrating Cultures addresses discrimination in a powerful yet age appropriate manner. Students learn to recognize the stereotypes and harmful pre-judgements that have been made about differences. Specific references to being treated differently demonstrate that discrimination is wrong.

By exploring different cultures and personally meeting individuals from those cultures, an appreciation is developed. Hands-on experiences allow for traditions such as dress, cuisine and celebrations to be shared. Students develop a greater understanding of both the benefits and challenges of living in a culturally diverse society.

16 Lessons: Introduction Lesson on Discrimination plus Book, Hands-on Empathy Building Activity and Speaker for each culture listed below:

Hispanic Americans

Native Americans

Jewish Americans

African Amercians

Asian Americans

 

Courage To Care 

(5th thru 8th Grades)

This unit can be introduced on its own but it is recommended that it follow one or all of the preceding It's OK to be Different units. Children who have participated in previous units have an awareness and sensitivity to people who are different.

For this final unit, students go beyond understanding that there is injustice in the world - they learn they can make a difference and are provided with "upstander" training. They are taught the skills necessary to stand up to peer pressure and discrimination by exploring events in history that depict the struggle for human rights and identify activists and heroes who had the courage to fight for the rights of others even when it was not their own personal struggle. Students tackle basic human rights, gender equality and race relations.

13 Lessons: Introduction Lesson on Discrimination plus Book, Hands-on Empathy Building Activity and Speaker for each topic listed below:

Gender Equality 

Race Relations

Consequences of Apathy: The Holocaust

*This unit concludes with an individual lesson: A Personal Pledge To Care for each student: Becoming an Upstander

 

Embracing the LGBT Community 

(6th - 8th Grades)

This unit can be introduced on its own but it is recommended that it follow one or all of the preceding It's OK to be Different units. Students who have participated in previous units will have developed an appreciation for people who are different from them.

In this unit, students are introduced to the various terms within the LGBT community. The intent is to help students gain an understanding of the community members while having an open mind. This will help reduce and prevent inappropriate language while fostering a positive environment.  Students are also provided with training on how to be a friend and ally to members of this community. The unit begins with an opening presentation designed to help students understand the differences between gender identity, sexual orientation, biological gender and gender expression which are often confused with one another. 

10 Lessons: Each unit is comprised of an introductory book or video, a hands on empathy building activity and a speaker for each topic listed below:

Introduction Lesson

Unit 1: Lesbian, Gay & Bi-Sexual

Unit 2: Transgender

Unit 3: Becoming an Ally (Upstander)

*This unit includes a resource list intended to provide additional support for teachers as well as students.