Students Talking And Relating (STAR)

STAR: An Overview

The Students Talking And Relating (STAR) program was conceived from many different resources and ideas.  It is a program designed to enhance and enrich the social and communication experiences of both typically developing peers and students with disabilities.  STAR was created to mend the bridge between students wanting to play and befriend other students with disabilities, but not knowing what to say or how to approach them.  Typically developing children enjoy being around their peers with disabilities, but may have questions, curiosity, and/or be afraid of offending the peer.

The STAR program was built using information from resources such as the Michigan Statewide Autism Resources Training (START) initiative, The Get Into It curriculum from the Special Olympics, and from other peer-to-peer programs, like the LINK program.  Some of the information, curriculum materials and outlines were also generated from needs that were observed from the students at Saline Area Schools, particularly within peer relationships between students with disabilities and their typically developing peers.

The guiding principle of the STAR program is that all students can learn from and with one another.  Our goals are to expand the social and communication skills of students with disabilities, to provide education about disabilities and diversity, and to build relationships between peers that are within the same grade/age-level starting in elementary school.  By using peers as supports, we can establish and strengthen students’ social skills, communication, and independence.

STAR Program - Crinkled Heart @ WM

S.T.A.R. (Students Talking and Relating) is a program offered to third graders at Woodland Meadows Elementary (also at Pleasant Ridge and Harvest). This program teaches the students about diversity and disabilities.  It teaches them how be friends to individuals with disabilities, answer their questions and expose them to various modalities that individual with disabilities use such as braille, sign language, assistance dogs, etc.

The Crinkled Heart activity taught the students how when we use "hurting words" it makes a wrinkle/crinkle in someones heart.  Those wrinkles or crinkles stay forever.  When we say nice words/friendly words we fill someones heart.