“Can Do” Street: A Place for Many Kinds of Families, Diversity and Disability Inclusion

familiesOn “Can Do” Street there are many kinds of families. There is racial diversity. It is an inclusive environment; a place where differences don’t matter.

Nellie and Willie live with their grandparents while their mom is in the military. They are just one of the many kinds of families on “Can Do” Street.

Jay lives with his parents but he spends summers with his grandparents in Dakota on the Indian reservation where they live. His tribe, the Chippewa Indians of Turtle Mountain, is also considered his family. So, you could say he has two families.

Hector and Maria’s parents both work. They participate in an after school program at the community center until their mom picks them up on her way home from work. Yundi and Wendy’s parents travel for business so they live part of the week with Grandma Sue.

Orrie, Annie, Bobby and Arthur Jay live with their mom and dad in a house next door to Grandma Maureen and Grandpa John.

There are 14 child characters on “Can Do” Street, three of whom have physical disabilities and one has a learning disability. Orrie uses a wheelchair. He is a computer wiz kid. He is active in sports, playing basketball, swimming, and horseback riding. Having Grandma Maureen and Grandpa John  next door is important to Orrie and his mom and dad. They are a big help with Orrie.

Nellie and Willie have a cousin, Mickey, who is visually disabled. He goes to a special school where he gets the help he needs to be independent. He has a service dog named Muggins. He comes home to his mom and dad, who live on “Can Do” Street, on holidays and for the summer. He plays the saxophone.

Annie has a hearing disability, so she wears a hearing aid. She is captain of the school Pee Wee basketball team.  Maria has a learning disability and needs extra help with reading, which she gets in school. She loves to draw and use graphics programs on the computer.

Having characters that are racially diverse, and include children with disabilities as well as different kinds of families is meant to raise a young child’s awareness of people and living situations different than his or her own. It also provides content and characters that can be used to teach disability sensitivity and cultural diversity.


Sensitivity to the Differences In Other Children

There are three “Can Do” Kids that have disabilities. Annie wears a hearing aid because she has  hearing loss. Orrie uses a wheelchair to get around and Mickey is blind. These characters are there to introduce young children visiting  “Can Do’ Street  to kids who can do much of what they can do despite the fact that they may look different to them.

Mickey and his dog Muggins make children aware of the role of a guide dog. Mickey talks about how Braille enables him to read music so he can play the saxophone. Annie shows visitors that her hearing loss doesn’t prevent her from being good at basketball or playing the drums in the community center band. Orrie needs a wheelchair to get around, but he can swim, is a straight A student and sings in the community center chorus.

These characters show young visitors to “Can Do” Street that kids with disabilities make good friends who don’t let their disabilities get in the way of having fun.


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