Elementary School

** PEARLS Project Elementary schools/classrooms will receive their own password-protected online platform page as well as a 12 piece photographic exhibition with accompanying mini biographies for each of the PEARLS Ambassadors. Prints are 11 x 16 and are ready to hang “as is” or can be framed. Supporting materials will also be provided, including kid-friendly language discussing some of the genetic, physical, behavioral and cognitive differences students will encounter through this project. The idea of these explanations is to enable students and the school community to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of life and life’s challenges from the perspective of the various PEARLS Ambassadors, while ultimately forging the way for students and school communities to see beyond to what PEARLS Ambassadors and students all share in common. PE will also offer assistance to schools/classrooms to optimize the whole experience and discuss possible ways to utilize the PEARLS Project within each school or classroom setting.

To see a sample PEARLS Project online page, receive an application for a PEARLS Project and/or discuss possible ways to incorporate the PEARLS Project into your school/classroom setting, please email liz@positiveexposure.org

Here are examples of how the PEARLS Project has been utilized at the elementary school level:

    • A Hallway Photographic Exhibition consisting of 12 PEARLS Ambassadors of which the majority of the Ambassadors are also in elementary school with a few in middle school and/or high school. Each image also includes a mini biography of the Ambassador in the photograph.  The exhibition allows for gallery walks by individual classes and is a focal point of the school for a period of several weeks.
    • School-wide Assemblies which are built around such themes as “celebrating what makes each of us unique” or “Bullying” or a town’s Disability Awareness Week.  Assemblies have included school-wide discussions, guest speakers, student presentations and projects, musical selections and the list goes on.
    • Classroom Activities which enable students to get a sense of what it is like to, for example, live with a visual difference or mobility issue.

Please visit our ADDITIONAL RESOURCES link for ideas and useful websites.

    • Utilizing Books, Poetry and Film to further enhance the PEARLS Project experience and/or incorporating the PEARLS Project into existing units of study which utilize literary works/films that revolve around difference, differing abilities, tolerance, bullying, values, friendship, community, etc.

Please visit our ADDITIONAL RESOURCES link to get a list of suggested books and films.

  • Implementing an Activity Book used in conjunction with the PEARLS Project for individual students, cooperatively in groups and for classroom discussions.
  • Culminating Projects in which insight gained from reading/viewing the blogs of the PEARLS Ambassadors — and in some cases asking questions and receiving answers —  results in a variety of projects such as:  bulletin board displays, incorporating photos and bios of students from the schools into the PEARLS Project hallway exhibition, art/music/theatre/dance projects, creation of videos, poetry, essays, student presentations.

PLEASE NOTE: While we understand that some schools/classrooms might utilize the PEARLS Project during a tolerance/bullying week or disability awareness week — and the PEARLS Project is a great kick-off for such a week or to be used in conjunction with such weeks — the overall philosophy of Positive Exposure is that every day of each year should be a disability awareness or respect day. In keeping with this philosophy and to ensure the effectiveness of the PEARLS Project within a school community — and because we would like to keep the PEARLS Project free to school communities worldwide — we do ask schools/classrooms to respect a few guidelines:

1. The photography exhibition must be exhibited in the school for a minimum of six weeks whether gallery style, via a bulletin board, in classrooms, etc. Schools/Classrooms may move the photography exhibition around during this time period and into different settings and configurations, but the hardcopy images must remain posted and a part of the fabric of the school community for a minimum of six weeks. Again, this is in keeping with Positive Exposure’s mission of changing societal perceptions of difference through the visual image.

2. The blogs of PEARLS Ambassadors must be read/viewed by students/teachers for a minimum of six weeks whether read in school or at home by students. Teachers may even print out the new blogs of PEARLS Ambassadors — or contact Positive Exposure for printable blogs, should access to computers be difficult for schools/ classrooms. The reading/viewing of these blogs, however, takes very little time for a school/classroom to do per week, but it is a necessity to ensure the effectiveness of the program. Additionally, it should be noted that PEARLS Ambassadors are students and young people themselves who are volunteering their time to blog about life from their perspective and are excited to have a much-needed voice.

3. The photography exhibition and reading/viewing of blogs are done in conjunction with a unit of study touching on such topics as inclusive communities, seeing beyond disability, diversity in the world around us, our shared humanity, what makes us all unique, the Positive Exposure motto: Change How You See, See How You Change as well as thematic studies on Bullying, Prejudice, Discrimination, Tolerance, Compassion, Empathy and Kindness. Please note that the PEARLS Project can also be used with a pre-existing unit of study should it be found to be relevant and provide yet another layer of learning and insight.

4. There are activities and lessons done in conjunction with the PEARLS Project.

5. There is a culminating project which could be as simple as writing a reflection piece or creating a collage to as big as a school or community festival.

6. Because we know that schools/classrooms are exceptionally busy, we do not want to take too much out of your day. However, we are only able to provide this project free to schools/classrooms by requesting that schools/teachers provide us with feedback and a brief summary of activities. In certain cases, schools may be invited to share their lessons and sample projects with the Positive Exposure community via the Positive Exposure website.

7. Please note that letter writing to PEARLS Ambassadors has been a wonderful activity for students to do in conjunction with the PEARLS Project. But we do ask that letters not be written nor questions asked of PEARLS Ambassadors until students have viewed the blogs for a minimum of three weeks and a relevant unit of study has occurred within the class. This is as much for the students writing the letters as well as the PEARLS Ambassadors. Students will have more information and insight through which to make comments and/or ask questions through their letters, and PEARLS Ambassadors will appreciate that their blogs were viewed accordingly and life from their various perspectives considered. Should your school/classroom wish to write letters, we do ask that you contact Positive Exposure first to let us know of your plan (so that we can then give you additional guidelines to follow with regards to the submission of these letters) and we, likewise, encourage each classroom to select one PEARLS Ambassador to eventually follow and write.

Recap of suggested ideas as well as some new ones:

1. Consider incorporating the Positive Exposure Motto of “Change How You See, See How You Change” — or similar slogan — into your School/Classroom’s PEARLS Project.

2. Explore a piece of literature (fiction/non-fiction) that deals with such themes as difference, disability, bullying, discrimination, societal perceptions, etc. The PEARLS Project should serve as a tool to further enhance this literary and sociological study. Again, the PEARLS Project can be used with a pre-existing unit of study and serve as yet an additional layer of insight and learning. Please visit our ADDITIONAL RESOURCES link for a list of suggested books/films. We will continue to add to this list. Should you have any recommendations, please feel free to share with us.

3. View and discuss a film or segment of a film with such themes as difference, disability, bullying, discrimination, etc.

4. Have students keep journals of their PEARLS Project experience: i.e., how they felt about the photographic exhibition when students first encountered the exhibition and then writing about the photographic exhibition after viewing blogs for a series of weeks; the experience of reading the blogs; class discussions; books read or films viewed in conjunction with the PEARLS Project; the idea of “Change How You See, See How You Change,” etc.

5. Engage in disability awareness activities that enable students to gain a better understanding of what it is like to live with a difference, such as a visual or hearing impairment. Please visit our ADDITIONAL RESOURCES link for ideas and useful websites.

6. A kick-off or gallery exhibition opening to the PEARLS Project – as well as closing, celebratory event.

7. Some ideas for School/Classroom/Individual Projects include: an awareness mural or Change How You See, See How You Change Wall; a skit, play, film or dance piece; a song or musical composition; poetry; collages; creating a children’s book; Public Service Announcements; Awareness Posters to be posted in the school or community; Wall of Humanity; Creating a Pearls Project with students from the school/classroom – taking photos, incorporating bios and writing blogs or journal entries about life from each student’s perspective; Pairing each classroom with one PEARLS Ambassadors and creating a bulletin board or showcase about that Ambassador (multiple bulletin boards/showcases on multiple PEARLS Ambassadors makes for a powerful piece of work); Compare and Contrast the lives of individual students with that of their selected PEARLS Ambassador; designing awareness t-shirts; designing awareness slogans; Bringing learning to the community through projects posted in such places as storefronts, restaurants, coffee shops and the local library; Researching a genetic condition and giving it a human face; Creating a blue print for making your school/classroom more inclusive; Organizing committees of student leaders to considering yet additional ways to make the school community/town community all the more inclusive, welcoming and accessible for all.