Gotta Dig It Sample Program Model



INTRO PHASE: Students will be prepared by teachers and counselor/s about the GOTTA DIG IT ONE WEEK Program, and open discussion will be encouraged. Three packets will be provided: Parent Packet and Teacher Packet will be distributed prior to program. Student Gotta DIG It Journal will be given at onset of program.

PARENT PACKET: Is sent home to provide info about the program and what students will be learning. Students are encouraged to discuss program with a parent or guardian. The intent is to prepare all students, both in general population and special education classes (if applicable to your school), for the upcoming program and topics that may arise. Includes form to participate in a WALK FOR INCLUSION, in which all students may invite friends and family to attend. WALK will take place on Day 5 of program. (For students with disabilities who are unable to walk – a BUDDY or BUDDY GROUP will help throughout the walk to ensure full participation).


Hello NAME OF SCHOOL Teachers & Staff:

We are participating in the GOTTA DIG IT program at NAME OF SCHOOL. The objective is to break social barriers for people with disabilities. This year’s program will take place on DATE OF EVENT/PROGRAM.

For more info about the program, please go to:


  1. Please read this packet and discuss it with your students prior to Date (should be 4 weeks prior to date of program).
  2. Please send the STUDENT GOTTA DIG IT PACKET home with students prior to Date (should be 2 weeks prior to date of program).
  3. OPTIONAL: Please ask students to have parents sign and return the consent forms if they wish to be part of our GOTTA DIG IT videos and photos. Date (should be 2 weeks prior to date of program).
  4. Please see directions and 7 page GOTTA DIG IT JOURNAL provided:


MINDFULNESS/MEDITATION : WE RECOMMEND STARTING WITH OUR TEN MINUTE BASIC MINDFULNESS PRACTICE: Optional guided meditation and breathing activity can be customized to any age group. Children are most open to new ideas when they are relaxed and focused. This also creates an atmosphere of empathy and common kindness. This activity, or an abbreviated one, can be done every day if time constraints are not an issue. K-2 may include "Get the Giggles Out" preface to meditation.

TEACHER SCRIPT – May adapt in his/her own words:

"This week we are going to participate a one week program to help us better understand our friends with disabilities, or different abilities. Today, we are going to complete a consensogram in our Gotta Dig It Journal and then discuss what we observe about people in different pictures." First we will start with an opening mindfulness activity."

ACTIVITY #1 A) GOTTA DIG IT JOURNAL ACTIVITY: Students start out the program with individual consensograms in their "GOTTA DIG IT" journals. After explaining that this is a JUDGEMENT-FREE ZONE, the students rate how they feel interacting with people with disabilities, at the onset of the week. It will be a 10 point scale, to answer the question, "How comfortable am I interacting with people with disabilities?" The students record their ratings in their journals. Rating is kept private only for each individual student to see. At the conclusion on Day 5, the students will rate themselves again. (K-2 can do this as a group activity).

ACTIVITY #1 B) THE INVISIBLE CHAIR PROJECT: (Note: Do not tell students the name of this activity until prompted). Students are shown 2 sets of photos. The first shows people playing basketball. The children are asked to describe what they see in the pictures. Encourage them to describe people, emotions, and details, and create a narrative about the individuals. Next, students are shown the same pictures of people playing basketball, who happen to be in wheel chairs. Students are again asked to describe what they see, and create a narrative about the individuals. The different reactions to the 2 photos are discussed. Often, the second photo elicits an emphasis on the wheelchairs and the inferred disabilities and takes on it's own narrative. You can then tell them this activity is called THE INVISIBLE CHAIR PROJECT. Discuss the students own reactions, explaining that the goal of this activity is to make the wheel chairs (metaphor for disabilities) become invisible. The intent is that the students learn to see the people, and not the chairs (or disabilities).


TEACHER SCRIPT – May adapt in his/her own words:

"Today we are going to talk about how we do the same activities as people with disabilities. For example, visually impaired people like to read books, just like me. Can you think of other activities that we do, that someone with a disability would like to do as well?"

ACTIVITY #2 - "JUST LIKE ME" ACTIVITY. Students will discuss daily life activities, emotions, hopes, dreams, and objectives that people with disabilities or differences do "just like them." (I.e. "They go to school JUST LIKE ME." "They need help sometimes, JUST LIKE ME.", "They get sad when their friends call them names JUST LIKE ME," etc.)


TEACHER SCRIPT – May adapt in his/her own words:

"Today we are going to take a step toward including people with disabilities or differences in our lives. We are going to make a deed or "promise" of inclusion. An example of this may be to smile at someone in a wheel chair even when your instinct may have been to look away. It may to be to hold a door open for someone who is not able, or to get to know fellow students with disabilities from our school. Perhaps you have someone in your life with a disability, like a neighbor or relative who is blind or speaks or walks differently. You could make your deed of inclusion to do with him or her. Think of what you could do to promote inclusion, and make that person feel included. Remember, they have feelings JUST LIKE ME."

ACTIVITY #3 DEED OF INCLUSION - Each child will commit to one important "Deed of Inclusion" – to do one random act of kindness that will promote inclusion. Teacher will discuss social responsibility to be kind to others and include them, and how it feels "right" to "Do The Wright Thing."* Students will write about their Deed of inclusion in their GOTTA DIG IT journals.

*Named after Tracy Wright, single working mom with CP, raising 4 kids, who helped inspire this program.


TEACHER SCRIPT – May adapt in his/her own words:

"Today we are going to experience a small taste of what it’s like to have various limitations on our abilities. Keep in mind, for us this is just a short temporary activity, but for people with real disabilities, this is their everyday life all the time. That’s something to think about. It makes us realize how "able" they are and how much harder they have to work to do the things that are so easy for us. We are also going to learn about what accommodations, devices, or processes they use to help accommodate their needs. Remember, they are people JUST LIKE US and we share many things in common."

FURTHER DISCUSSION - PREFACE TO EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING ACTIVITIES : Brief class discussion about what students learned about the experience of having a disability and about speaking openly with panel members. An emphasis will be placed on what we have in common.

ACTIVITY #4 -EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING STATIONS : This can be done by grade, and is best run by people with the specific limitation on ability that is being simulated. You will also need parent and staff assistance. Works best with maximum of 6 students at a time per station.

(***If time is an issue due to number of students, this can be set up in an ASSEMBLY FORMAT instead of STATIONS FORMAT, allowing only a few students to volunteer and perform activities on stage in front of rest of students in audience.***)

STATION FORMAT: There will be 5 stations set up to simulate various types of disabilities. The basic format is: VISUAL, COMMUNICATION, AUDITORY, FINE MOTOR, and SENSORY. Each student will take turns participating in the activity at each station. It is essential that the students partake with an intention of mindfully observing and focusing on all their senses and emotions. The simulated impairments (or limitations on abilities) will be done as follows:

1.VISUAL: 4-6 Students are blindfolded. They are each given a paper bag containing one different object each. (Such as a coin, a granola bar in wrapper, a colored pencil, a yogurt, nail polish).They are asked to identify the objects by touch. Feeling each one carefully, evaluating weight, texture, features. Then ask for detail, is it a nickel, what kind of granola bar, color of pen, flavor of yogurt, color of nail polish). They can open packaging to reveal smells, more textures, etc.

  • You can also pass around a notation in braille and have students feel it. Discuss these activities, and talk about how hard or easy each item was to identify, and how other senses played a greater role when they couldn't use vision.

    • Students are given sun glasses covered in Vaseline. They are asked to read a paragraph in small print (for K-2 group they can be shown small pictures and asked to identify what’s in them).

    2.COMMUNICATION: Students will be put in pairs, and each will take turns communicating and listening. Both partners will actively participate by seeking ways to understand and be understood.

    • Student will be asked to convey a long phrase to partner while maintaining 1-2 marshmallows in his or her mouth.
    • Student will convey a phrase (i.e. "I love GOTTA DIG IT week.") to partner without words, using gestures, facial expressions, and movements.

    3.AUDITORY: Teacher will recite a paragraph (from at least 10 feet away) while mouthing the words silently. Students will try to read teacher’s lips and repeat the phrase verbatim.

    4.FINE MOTOR: Students will perform intricate activities (such as tying a shoe, zipping a bag, picking up one cheerio at a time, etc.) while wearing snow gloves. Whomever succeeds can then try with boxing gloves.

    5.SENSORY: We will simulate sensory overload. Students are placed in groups of 6. Each student will have a chance to be the reader once. One student, the designated reader, sits in a chair and read a book while other 5 students each engage in one of the following behaviors toward the reader, simultaneously and continuously for 30 seconds:

    • Taps reader on each shoulder from behind
    • Sings in reader’s one ear
    • Holds a phone (or device) playing loud music in reader’s other ear
    • Shines a flashlight (can use phone flashlight) in reader’s eyes
    • Kicks the seat on which reader is sitting

    FOLLOW UP: Discussion on disabilities/differences and inclusion. We recommend starting with this script, but teacher can also use his/her own words:

    "Now we have a taste of what it’s like to have a few disabilities or differences in abilities. Many people live every day with these differences. They affect how they learn and process information, and how they perform normal everyday tasks, which can be incredibly difficult.

    For instance, children with Down Syndrome often have much larger tongues, making it harder to speak. Perhaps it feels like there’s a bunch of marshmallows in their mouths when they speak. People with Cerebral Palsy, nerve damage, or neurological disorders have less control of their bodies, and tying a shoe would be like doing it with boxing gloves on. Blind people cannot read what flavor yogurt they are holding if it’s not written in braille and they’re able to read braille. People with cognitive or developmental disabilities may find it so hard to communicate how they feel that it feels as restrictive as conveying a message without any words. In fact, some people cannot speak or use their bodies to communicate how they feel. People on the Autism spectrum, or even with ADHD to some extent, experience sensory overload and it feels just like the reader did while five people were doing the repetitive and distracting behaviors.

    People with these differences are often made to feel like they are those differences, instead of being a person who happens to have differences. They feel different and are often ignored or made fun of. Think about how hard it must be to have a disability AND not feel included. That’s where we can change things. In fact, we can change the world. You can help educate people about what you’ve learned this week. Now that you know a little bit about how it feels to be different, you have more in common with people with disabilities or differences. You also know they’re JUST LIKE US in many ways."

    Students will have a discussion about what the hardest parts were for them during the simulated disability activities. Students will then write about their experiences in their journals, and how they’ve changed their thinking after this week. (K-2 can do this as a class activity)


    OPEN DISCUSSION OF LIFE WITH A DISABILITY: Q and A SESSION: A panel of two to five individuals with different disabilities will speak briefly about living with their disabilities. After all panel members have spoken, students will be given the opportunity to ask open and respectful questions. (Although questions may be prepared in advance, spontaneous ones in response to speakers tend to make most impact). Compassionate and open dialogue is greatly encouraged.

    After speakers leave, teachers will have a final discussion with students about what the hardest parts were for them during the simulated disability activities. Students will then write about their experiences in their journals, and how they’ve changed their thinking after this week. (K-2 can do this as a class activity)

    TEACHER SCRIPT – May adapt in his/her own words:

    "You have now learned a lot about how to include people with disabilities in our everyday life. Now I want you to ask yourselves: How comfortable am I interacting with people with disabilities?"

    ACTIVITY #5A CLOSING ACTIVITY : Students revisit the consensogram that they initiated on Day 1 of the week, and respond again to the question, "How comfortable am I interacting with people with disabilities

    ACTIVITY #5B WALK FOR INCLUSION – PLEDGE & KICK OFF: Students will meet in front of school. The program leader will recite the GOTTA DIG IT PLEDGE (see below), stating " I encourage you to join in and repeat after me line by line." Students will then repeat one line at a time:

    • Students will proceed outside with teachers and parent volunteers for WALK FOR INCLUSION
    • GOTTA DIG IT cuffs will be distributed (pre-ordered) – SCHOOL FUNDRAISER - percentage of sales goes to school
    • Children hold hands and form a chain of inclusion (Children/adults with disabilities are assisted by peers/buddies or buddy groups during walk)

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