While at Brandies, I have felt an emphasis on the lesson that “fair does not mean equal.” Every person has different sets of strengths and challenges that affect how they are able to maneuver the world around them. More than that, Brandeis has taught me that it is not okay to just understand that fair does not mean equal; you have to do your best to create an environment where everyone can meet their highest potential. I am consistently inspired by my fellow students coordinating rides to every Women’s March, posting about rallies calling for the end of ICE separating children from their families, and general support for each other on campus.
This lesson is extremely relevant at The Quad Manhattan. All of the psychosocial interns have spent the last two weeks pouring over each child’s file and reading all possible information to give us the best sense of what each camper’s goals and strategies should be for the summer. Everything from DSM diagnosis to favorite books is noted by staff to create a personalized plan for each camper. As we have been setting up classrooms, we look into therapy notes to see what type of “fidgets” or other sensory tools will help each child, as well as what type of visual aids or strategies will be most useful. The reason every aspect of The Quad Manhattan is so personalized is because of this idea that fair does not mean equal. If the program was less personalized and gave each child with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ADHD the same accommodations, the program would be equal but not fair, and wouldn’t give each kid the same chances of success.
This idea of fair does not mean equal allows me to contextualize my work in terms of social justice issues because it doesn’t just speak to allowing the kids to thrive within The Quad Manhattan, but helps us teach them how to have the best life possible when they are not in a specialized program. This idea of fair does not mean equal allows our kids to take not only their personalized strategies with them, but the ability to advocate for themselves. Once they graduate high school and either enter college or the work force, the understanding that it is okay to ask for extra help and the knowledge of what type of extra help they need will help these Twice Exceptional kids live their best lives possible.
I have loved the opportunity to create this personalized “fair does not mean equal” based programming for The Quad Manhattan, not only because I believe it is the right thing to do, but because it has given me a crash course in the world of practical psychology. I have learned so much about how to take general information from multiple sources that often times have conflicting information and create an action plan. We have our first day of camp on Monday and I am looking forward to learning how to adapt the plans we have made based on the new information we learn in person about each of our campers.