Thames Elementary School and The Association for the Rights of Citizens with Disabilities (The Arc of Forrest County)

Thames Elementary and The Arc formed a partnership to create an inclusive leisure and recreation activity to reward children with and without disabilities. In 2010 The Arc built a recreational facility for individuals with disabilities in the community of Hattiesburg and surrounding counties.

Thames Elementary contacted The Arc to form a partnership reward system for positive behavior support and academic achievement throughout the 2010-11 school year. Originally the school was to reward students who scored advanced or proficient on the statewide testing, MCT2 and MAAECF for the 2009-10 school year. The scores were received during the summer session, and the students were rewarded in September 2010 with a field trip to The Arc multipurpose building for a day of movies, recreation and leisure. The building is a handicap-accessible building that can facilitate numerous activities. The children were inclusively involved in movie time, game centers and team games. Twenty-five community members volunteered their time to set up, to participate in organizing centers and to clean up for the three days the facility was used to reward the Thames Elementary students. The Arc donated popcorn and drinks during the movie and Thames Elementary provided lunch.

The reward system was so successful that when the United Way Campaign was underway, the school advertised a day at the multipurpose building as a reward for the three classes that donated the most funds to the fundraiser. The building was again accessed to provide two days of fun to children with and without disabilities.

In addition, the facility is used for training individuals with disabilities in community-based settings at Thames. Obviously a unique relationship has been created for children with and without disabilities through inclusive leisure and recreation activities.

Duration of partnership: 1 year
25 volunteers
Impacts 255 students

Activities: Students rewarded for MCT2 and MAAECF scores with field trip to The Arc multi-purpose and recreational building for movie time, game centers and team games. Community volunteers helped organize centers and clean-up during three-day event, which culminated in a picnic on the grounds. Students also rewarded with visit to the center for United Way fundraising activities. Teachers use facility for community-based training for students with disabilities.

Results: Total of 17 community-based trips made to The Arc by students with disabilities. Expanded services to individuals with disabilities, encouraged community recreation, increased community involvement and awareness, increased participation and acceptance of children with and without disabilities in an inclusive setting.