by Angela Gartner, Staff Writer
From November 17th to December 18th, Saint Vincent’s Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) is collecting books for the ACLD Tillotson School (Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities). The worldwide mission of the Council for Exceptional Children aims to improve educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities. CEC is the largest international non-profit association that carries out its mission through the support of dedicated special education professionals and others working on behalf of individuals with disabilities.
Worldwide, CEC organizations maintain several goals, one of which includes the belief that the government has a responsibility to assure the provision of a free and appropriate education for individuals with exceptionalities. Through these organizations, students with disabilities are able to receive the same education as other students; these children are able to participate in normal extracurricular activities in a safe and comfortable environment under the supervision, expertise, and care of dedicated individuals.
The CEC provides professional development opportunities and resources, has 17 divisions for specialized information, and publishes journals and newsletters that detail recent findings and classroom practices. The CEC also sponsors conferences and conventions to professionals and other individuals dedicated to the field of special education. The CEC mission promotes appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards and provides continuing professional development “by helping professionals achieve the conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice.”
SCEC, a student organization that promotes awareness of exceptional students, strives to provide students at SVC with an opportunity to not only help (directly or indirectly) exceptional students but also promote learning equality among all students and increase interest and experience in special education careers. SCEC’s events allow members to gain skills outside of the classroom and interact with students who suffer from mental or learning disabilities.
Saint Vincent’s SCEC has coordinated several projects that complement the CEC’s mission. For example, students sent pen pal letters to students at the NHS Autism School at Saint Cecilia’s near Hostetter and helped with a “breakfast with Santa” at the ARC of Westmoreland, an organization also committed to helping individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The club members are also in contact with Sharon Greene from the Special Olympics in order to plan “Fun Night” activities for students involved in the Special Olympics organization. The book drive is the club’s current endeavor, and members hope to amass children books, such as picture books, story books and other easy readers.
SCEC president Caitlin Ross believes that reading books has a considerable impact on cognitive development. “Research demonstrates that exposure to books early and often supports the development of environmental literary, the ability to read and understand signs and other print necessary for daily independent living,” she said. “We thought that this would be a great way to give back to the community and support a local exceptional school in the process.”
The SCEC will accept lightly used books. Students interested in donating books should deposit one or more books in collection boxes located in the Education Department in Prep Hall, as well as Room 21 in the Carey Center. “This is our first book drive and hopefully will be the first of many,” Ross said.