Warrior Buddies host Inclusion Week

Driven by a mission to ‘End the Word,’ students and staff work to spread awareness about and end stigmas associated with disabilities

Michelene Havard, Staff Writer

This week, Warrior Buddies — a MCHS co-curricular that promotes social opportunities for all students regardless of academic, social, or physical ability — made an effort to reduce ignorance, and prevent bullying through an event called Inclusion Week. 

Inclusion Week was a week dedicated to make every individual feel included. Not only should students make their peers feel included in day-to day life, Warrior Buddies say, but students should be open to learn about the right and wrong ways to talk about cognitive disabilities. 

“This week is Spread the Word Inclusion,” explained Madison Karr special education teacher. “This will be our 4th year participating in this amazing movement. In the past it was ‘Spread the Word to End the Word’ in hopes to encourage students to stop using the r-word, spread awareness on disabilities, and end negative stigmas. That message is still present in this movement, however, it is more driven to encourage inclusiveness.”

After three years of spreading the message to end the r-word, Karr has noticed a decrease in people using the word. Now, they are still pushing to keep using positive language.

“[Inclusion Week] is to celebrate the awareness of disabilities, and like everybody in school,” special education teacher Kim Jacobson added. “Even students that don’t necessarily have disabilities — it’s for all students of McHenry.” 

Karr has always been gravitated toward helping individuals with disabilities. 

“I started off nannying for individuals with disabilities, then I started working in daycares for students with disabilities, [and] then I started being an assistant here [at MCHS] before I became a teacher.”

Throughout this week the Warrior Buddies hosted various events. A PowerPoint was shown on Monday in every AIM classroom. The presentation showed that there are some students that learn differently, not better, nor worse. On Wednesday a video that the Warrior Buddies created was viewed by every AIM class as well. 

To conclude Inclusion Week, Warrior Buddies hosted events during every lunch period on Friday. The information that the students gathered from this week impacted the Warrior Buddies program by inspiring some students to take on leadership roles. 

“People in the school volunteer to be leader buddies,” Karr mentioned. “Then they come in and do social events with our kids, so we do once a month after school events which are here in the classroom. And then we do once a month outside of school events, so on the weekend we might go to a pumpkin farm or go out to see a movie … They can sign up anytime. We had people that saw our PowerPoints and videos this week, and they already got signed up to start.”

Warrior Buddies hopes that Inclusion week made people aware of their word choices and actions, because negative connotations could hurt somebody’s feelings.

“We hope that these events will end exclusion and discrimination, and replace these actions with positive behaviors,” Karr said. “We believe that everyone deserves to be included. The end goal is to ensure that everyone in district 156 feels respected and appreciated as valuable members of this community.

For more information on this nationwide event visit https://www.spreadtheword.global