From “Spread the Word to End to Word!’ to “Be Kind,” Gahanna Lincoln High School has become involved in a number of campaigns promoting respect towards people with special needs.
Started by the Special Olympics, these campaigns have been sparking a worldwide movement. Entering its ninth year, Tiffany Hanna, Jill Evans, and Cheryl Evans are all headrunners of the Extended Support Services Program that sparked the campaign. Beginning on March 5th, there is a week dedicated to this year’s “Be Kind” campaign. On Monday and Tuesday, students will be asked to sign the pledge to stop saying the “R-word,” which is used in an improper and derogatory way. Disability awareness is a goal of the program, so students can learn and interact with the kids who function differently than themselves.
Together with Upper Arlington, Gahanna has helped inspired other schools in Central Ohio to adapt disability-friendly movements. Over the last 9 years, the program has only grown. The t-shirts sold have always been a big hit and are even being shipped countrywide. Through the Paw Print, GLHS’s school school store, this year’s Be Kind shirt being sold and distributed beginning on 3/5/18. Look for an immense number of blue t-shirts to be available soon.
The whole school gets involved with the campaign, too. Every year, the TV program works in collaboration with the ESS program to release a PSA that will be played for over the week. These videos have been used at a variety of schools to demonstrate how they can take part in this campaign. The videos are also available on Youtube after next week. During the lunch periods, students will be let out early to have the opportunity to play wheelchair basketball with therapy and agility dogs, and even use VR glasses to simulate having certain disabilities. This year, the lunchtime program will also feature an autistic magician on Tuesday during third period and later for the community at 6:30. In Hamilton Hall, there is a beautiful poster about this campaign, which will be added to this year.
These three women, Tiffany Hanna, Jill Evans, and Cheryl Kempf, are movers and shakers who are passionate about spreading an important message. Ms. Kempf, a GLHS teacher, says that the reason for the campaign is for people to “change in attitudes” and stop doing things out of ignorance. She also explains that people should be “more selective of the words we used” and that students are becoming“desensitized” to words that could have a negative impact on others. It is important for the student body to be mindful of how they should treat each other. It is programs like this that shape students into better people. They are the future leaders of America, so awareness and tolerance of people who function differently is an imperative skill.