DEPEW — The Foundation for Inclusive Catholic Education will hold its third-annual Taking Flight Dinner on March 2, from 6-9 p.m., at Salvatore's Italian Gardens on Transit Road. Funds from the dinner are used for training and resources to enable Catholic schoolteachers and administrators to provide children with special needs an inclusive Catholic education experience.
FICE's efforts continue to gain both momentum and support. In a letter to principals and pastors of diocesan Catholic schools, Bishop Richard J. Malone stated, "It is imperative that our Catholic schools enthusiastically partner with their families to provide inclusive educational programs that, whenever possible, will help every child reach his or her God-given potential along with providing skills to be successful in life and a living faith for all children. It is in this way that we strengthen and support our families who will ultimately fortify the foundation of our Catholic Church."
Many of the faith communities in the Diocese of Buffalo support inclusive education in their schools. "We are so grateful that our daughter, who has Down syndrome, has enjoyed and benefited from a Catholic education just like her three older siblings," said Kathryn Schultz, the mother of a local Catholic school student. Inclusive education is based on the sacred covenant that every child and family is valued equally and deserves the same opportunities and experiences.
"We truly appreciate the efforts of FICE," said Sister Carol Cimino, SSJ, superintendent of Catholic Schools. "They have provided awesome training and support to our teachers."
The efforts of the diocese include a subcommittee on inclusive education, headed by former New York State Regents Chancellor Robert Bennett.
The subcommittee reports back to the Diocese of Buffalo Catholic Schools Advisory Council, headed by Bishop Malone. The efforts of the subcommittee have resulted in several meetings with officials from the New York State Education Department to secure the services to which all Catholic School students are entitled.
Individual tickets for the Taking Flight Dinner are $50 and can be purchased at www.fice-program.org. Sponsorship information is available as well.