This fall began a mission of Maria and I’s. By no means is this mission our own idea nor are we leading the way. We are simply following examples set forth by other people.
In October the high school that I work for held an awareness week for people with disabilities and a fundraiser football game that we called The Game for Respect. We also began a program called Project Unify at the high school. The middle school which Maria works at is also holding an awareness week this spring.
The awareness weeks were ideas that we got from a campaign called “Spread the Word to End the Word”. I contacted our local Special Olympics representative to see how we could work together. I threw out the idea of having students sign a banner and take the pledge to stop using the “r-word”. For those that may not know we are talking about the word “retard” or “retarded”. They loved this idea so much they were willing to buy and send me 700 wristbands to give to the students when they signed the banner. So this whole campaign was completely free to myself and the school. Anyone that works in a public school system knows that free makes things A LOT easier to get accomplished.
The week went well. I had volunteers from my Wildcat Buddies help to inform students about the banner and what it meant. The guidance department even gave me a list of all the students in the school. As students came to sign the banner they had to give us their name and we would check them off, sign, and then hand over a bracelet. Our goal was to have the entire school sign the banner. Of course we had to go searching some students out. I even went and addressed some students directly if they were against signing the banner. I simply would ask what they were against and then explain what this pledge and this word meant to me, Lorelei, and some of their fellow students. Every student that I spoke with saw that our cause was justified. We finished with only about 30 of the 750 students not signing the banner. It was a great accomplishment for our first go around. We are hoping the middle school has similar success.
Along with the awareness week I gave a 30 minute talk during the school day. I spoke with 8th, 9th, then 10th graders seperately. Our administration is understandably against whole school assemblies. Needless to say I was nervous on Monday about what I would say and how it would go...
To be continued ...