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Grade 4: Visiting DIRT Coffee Bar (A Service Learning Lesson in Neurodiversity & Community Advocacy)

As part of their service learning work, fourth-grade students got to visit DIRT Coffee Bar on a sunny afternoon this April. DIRT, a mission driven nonprofit, works to promote a safe training and employment environment for neurodivergent individuals as well as prepare them for future work opportunities beyond DIRT.
The visit started off with a presentation from the program manager, Ms. Jenna, who emphasized the importance of fostering a community that embraces differences and supports growth in all its diverse forms. The organization's acronym, DIRT, which stands for Divergent, Inclusive, Representation, and Transforms, conveys the core values and goals of the establishment. DIRT recognizes the value of having neurodiverse groups work together, as it leads to creative problem-solving, innovative ideas, and the opportunity to learn from different perspectives. 

As you look around DIRT Coffee Bar, you notice the presence of flowers throughout the café, and they serve as a powerful metaphor for DIRT's mission. Students learned that the flowers symbolize the beauty in diversity and the potential for growth. Ms. Jenna explained, "Flowers come in many shapes and sizes, grow at different rates, and can bloom in the sun or in the shade. Just like people, flowers are diverse and experience growth differently." She further explained that, "People are just like flowers; we all have unique needs and qualities, and it's important to recognize and embrace those differences!"

Throughout the visit, fourth graders also learned about the importance of advocacy and how speaking up for one's beliefs can lead to positive change. DIRT firmly stands by their community advocacy, and it was their beliefs that allowed them to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. By introducing young learners to organizations like DIRT Coffee Bar, they experience the significance of inclusion and advocacy, shaping a future where differences are celebrated and embraced. Way to cultivate compassion and inspire leadership, fourth grade! 

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1927, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.