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True Inclusion

With school bullying problems dominating the headlines recently, it's nice to see a story like this: At Bonner Springs Elementary in Kansas, general education 5th graders have reportedly taken it on themselves--in a kind of spontaneous group effort--to help out and befriend their special needs peers, according a local news site. Some of the special ed. students at the school have significant disabilities. But rather than ignoring them or making fun of them, general ed. students help them with school work, walk them to and from classes, and--perhaps most importantly--just hang out with them and listen to them. Teachers say the effort began without their direction, although students note the importance of their teachers' example.

The school's principal notes that the students' behavior is not at all typical for 10 year-olds, who are often beginning to separate themselves from those perceived as different or less popular. Indeed, as one teacher notes, it's not even typical for adults: "A lot of times, even adults are afraid, they don't know what to do if a student has special needs. We stand back (thinking) 'What do we do?' These kids don't."

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