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Accept the Challenge

An educational based awareness program designed to promote understanding and acceptance of each other, regardless of differences and challenges.

Overview
ATC Building an inclusive community is an ever-evolving process that requires ongoing, honest and supportive learning opportunities and conversations designed to highlight the fact that universally, we all have strengths challenges, and differences.

The goal of MDSC's Accept the Challenge (ATC) is to promote understanding and acceptance of each other, regardless of differences and challenges. ATC encourages individuals to take the perspective of others and develop skills to support all members of their school community.

This program can also be implement in religious schools, youth groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, staff trainings, or other community organizations. 

Presentation
MDSC representatives Maureen Blazejewski and Kerri Tabasky will engage participants in a 45-minute interactive group assembly, specifically customized to meet the needs of the organization. This dynamic, engaging presentation will educate participants about perspective and the importance of celebrating the individual differences that make up a community.

Highlights  
• Multiple intelligences - we are all "smart" in different ways
• Notable figures who manage their own challenges every day
• The importance of recognizing and celebrating the diversity present in our communities 
• Equity vs. Equality
• Empathy for those who have challenges
• How to be a friend
• The MDSC will provide each organization with a one-hour phone consultation to discuss program and determine specific needs in order to customize presentation.  

Additional Resources & Materials for Schools

• Teacher Guide - School will be provided with an electronic copy of a teacher guide that includes self-reflection worksheets, challenge activities, and discussion questions.
• Letter to Families - Teachers will be provided with a "letter to families," which will include an introduction about the program as well as relevant questions that can be utilized for family discussion. This can be sent home with students via email and/or hard copy.                                       
• Educator's Manual - Each school that participates in the Accept the Challenge program will be provided with a complimentary copy of the MDSC's Educator's Manual. Titled Meaningful Inclusion for Students with Down Syndrome - a Resource Guide for Elementary Educators, the guide provides a comprehensive look at the complex learning profile of students with Down syndrome, as well as information around best practices and educational considerations that are based upon research-proven best practices. More information and additional copies available here.

For more information or to book your school or other organization for an Accept the Challenge program please contact us at 781-221-0024 or atc@mdsc.org.


ABOUT THE PRESENTERS
Maureen Blazejewski, M. Ed. is a special education teacher at the Avery Elementary School in Dedham, MA. She serves as chair of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress' (MDSC) Education Task Force. Throughout her career, she has worked in a Maureen B.variety of diverse roles within the Special Education field, including working as an Educational Consultant to the MDSC and school districts across Massachusetts through the 3-21 Foundation.  In that role, Maureen collaborated with school teams in a direct consultation/coaching role to support districts in the ever-evolving process of developing individualized educational programs for students with complex educational needs. Through the MDSC, she transitioned from the role of Education Director to Education Consultant where her primary goal was to support families and education professionals by providing information and resources around the best practices for educating students with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition, she has been involved with the Learning Program Boston/3-21 Foundation since September 2009, engaging closely with students, staff and families to design and implement monthly social and educational monthly programs designed for students with Down syndrome. She holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Wheelock College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Elementary Education from Stonehill College.

Kerri Tabasky is the mother of three girls. The youngest, Anna, is nine years old, and has Down syndrome. Kerri conceptualized and co-authored the educational program, “Accept the Challenge” to teach the importance of acceptance and inclusion. She and her husband Jonathan served as co-chairs of the MDSC Buddy Walk for three years from 2012-2014, and received the 2015 MDSC Leadership Award. Kerri wrote and produced several videos to promote the Buddy Walk and Down syndrome awareness, including “Superhero” and “What is a Champion”. These videos featured Actor Chris Evans, Actress Lauren Potter, Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow, and former Celtics player Dana Barros. Kerri has appeared on WBZ-TV, KTLA 5 and Mix 104.1, representing the MDSC. Her background is in the television, music, and radio industries, specializing in media sales and marketing.  In 2015 Kerri wrote speeches and managed speaking engagements for George Foreman III. Kerri is an Honorary Board member of the MDSC and serves on the board of Concord Youth Theatre. Currently, Kerri is writing and developing the TV dark comedy “Mac and Drew”, with her partner Chris McNelly, starring Lauren Potter, Chris Kattan, Scott Evans, and Max Adler. She resides in Sudbury, MA with her family.