By Madison Sawyer

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Ashford Rise School is a non-profit school inside the Moody Family YMCA in Dallas.

At first glance, the school appears to be your typical early childhood education program, but the learning environment at Rise, is anything but typical.

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The school is an inclusive preschool program that serves children from six months to six years old, both with disabilities and without.

Michael and Odila Young have two daughters who attend Rise.

“I think as parents with two kids, one with special needs and one who is typical, inclusion is huge for us and we want both of our girls to grow up in an environment where they feel included, loved, accepted,” Odila describes.

“Just having them in the same classroom, learning together and getting to know each other, makes all the difference,” Michael says.

They say the inclusive learning environment has helped both their daughters thrive.

“You have kiddos with special needs that feel included and learn from their typical peers,” she says. “And then, you have the typical kids who learn to be aware of others who might have different needs.”

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Maude Pampel, the Director of the Ashford Rise School, says the unique inclusive learning environment sees ability first, rather than disability.

“So, it is not about what these children can’t do,” Pampel says. “It’s about what the children are doing and what they will be doing.”

Teaching empathy to children from a young age.

“I think it is so important that as a society we are including other people, so that it’s not differences we see that separate us, but its differences that bring us together,” Michael says.

Lessons that the school hopes last the students a lifetime.

Tuesday, May 18th, the Ashford Rise School is hosting a virtual fundraising event called ‘Runway for Rise.’

Students will hit the runway and model clothing from local boutiques, all to raise awareness about their unique learning environment.

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If you are interested in virtually attending the show, you can sign up for the event on their website.

Madison Sawyer