Who We Are
Walk In My Shoes is an all-volunteer-run nonprofit organization. Our program fosters inclusion by providing empathy-building activities designed to teach elementary school-aged children how to be respectful and inclusive of all children, especially those with medical conditions, developmental challenges, or learning differences. This is a comprehensive program that requires pre-teaching in the days leading up to the event as well as having school counselors debrief with the students after the event to ensure the messages were correctly received. The 3rd-grade and up program requires a volunteer training (included) to make sure that the volunteer activity leaders can model respectful attitudes and can convey activity lessons correctly.
1) increase knowledge
2) shift perspectives
3) inspire action--the action of being a good friend.
This program also teaches children about the importance of accessible environments, fosters inclusive environments for all children which reduces the risk of bullying and isolation, and uplifts parents whose greatest hope is that their children will feel welcome and safe at school so they may thrive.
What We Offer
The Walk In My Shoes Program offers two programs designed to foster inclusion. Our 3rd-grade and up Walk In My Shoes program can be used as a school assembly or in small group/classrooms. The current 3rd-grade and up program cost is $450. This includes 1) a morning meeting guide developed by WIMS and the Floris team with discussion ideas, a book suggestion list, and activity ideas; 2) a detailed program implementation guide based on our years of experience holding this event; 3) our set of activity descriptions with goals, objectives, and learning targets; 4) our scripts and discussion questions and instructions so that the volunteers know exactly what to say and do; 5) activity worksheets developed by WIMS to support each of the activities; 6) two hours of dedicated time with the WIMS Founder and Director as follows: a 30-minute presentation to walk you and your team through the program; a 30-minute virtual planning meeting to help you determine how you want to set up your event (assembly vs. classroom rotation) and which activities you want to use for each grade, etc.; and a 60-minute virtual training for your school volunteers/activity leaders so that they will feel confident and ready to go! This does not include the supplies or assembly of kits for each activity, but the implementation guide shows you how to choose activities that fit your budget. Many of the needed supplies are commonly found in schools and many activities can be run with just the WIMS worksheets included in the activity file. Plus, as always, once you buy the program it is licensed for your school to use as many times per year as you wish, for as many years as you wish! Current activity topics for the 3rd-grade and up program are:
Autism: Sensory Processing
Autism: Deciphering Emotions
Color Vision Deficiency
English Language Learners
Fine Motor Delay
Visual Motor Integration
Our K - 2nd-grade program is brand new and currently offers 5 activities. It uses existing children's books and crafts or activities to teach how ramps help everyone, that we should include food that everyone can eat at class parties, that we should respect people’s names even if they are hard to pronounce, how to help a friend who is learning English, and how to make our communication clearer for those who have trouble deciphering emotions to understand.
This program is currently $150 for the files and 4 children's books. Unlike the original program for older kids, with this program schools have the option to order the materials and craft kits and have them shipped directly to their school (prices vary based on the number of kids in K - 2nd grades because of the craft supplies).
Learn more about us!
This is a unique, flexible, cost-effective, and creative program that empowers school counselors, teachers, PTAs, and homeschool groups to:
Create a more welcoming school environment for all students
Support Inclusive Schools Week
In April of 2013 I walked into an elementary school to help a friend with an Autism Awareness event and witnessed something beautiful happening--kids were learning to be understanding and kind to each other no matter their differences. It was this extraordinary experience that inspired me to create something similar for our school. I am deeply grateful that Floris Elementary School staff and administration embraced the concept and encouraged me to develop a program tailored to our school that could 1) be broadened to include any Floris family, 2) would include pre-teaching ahead of the event, 3) and include debriefing with school counselors in the days following the event. My public health education and training led me to structure our program in a way that could move the students through our goals and objectives toward behavior change and action--the action of including a friend. The resulting program, Walk In My Shoes (WIMS), includes four activities from the Autism Awareness program that inspired me to bring it to Floris, and the other 8 activities in the 3rd and up program are a collaboration between WIMS, Floris families, and other FCPS school administrators. The 5 activities in the K - 2nd program were developed entirely by WIMS.
In 2021 we incorporated as a nonprofit organization! WIMS has been run at Floris 6 times since 2015 and is now being offered in more than 25 schools. The program has been donated to a local nonprofit called Task Tarea which translated portions of the program into Spanish and adapted it for use with teachers in Mayan Guatemala. WIMS has also been donated to a doctoral student for use in her dissertation focused on training teachers on the Island of St. Maarten as part of a doctoral dissertation. The program has also been donated to silent auctions for ARC and SEPTA, and free or reduced pricing was granted to all the schools that used it in the early days of development.
This program is a wonderful example of meaningful collaboration between administrators, teachers, and the PTA. Together we are shifting mindsets, starting conversations, and building empathy one step at a time!