National disability charity Scope has created a new learning resource to promote understanding of diversity. The 'Imagine the Difference' teaching pack provides interactive activities for children aged five to 11. It will be available to every primary school within five years.
The pack includes teaching plans, activity sheets and assembly ideas. Scope hopes it will help prevent stereotypes by raising awareness of disability issues when children are still young.
"We've got the legislation in place, but if you don't change hearts and minds the legislation won't be effective," says Caroline Underwood, head of education at Scope. "Some schools don't have any disabled kids, so we want to open that barrier up for discussion. Imagine the Difference challenges children to imagine life as it is experienced by people who are different from them for all sorts of reasons."
The scheme has a dedicated website with a picture gallery and an interactive whiteboard that allows kids to chat online. Many of the programme's activities involve stories being read to children and discussions initiated at school assemblies.
"The assemblies are trying to introduce disability on a wider scale so you get a wider group of people thinking about it," says Underwood. "It really is about making a cultural shift in attitudes, and we think this can best be done in schools."