Advocating for disability awareness

Opportunities for Orange County schools and California

California has always been one of the states that is forward thinking. With its huge size and the major cities like Los Angeles and Hollywood the state tends to get noticed more often. This is why it is so vital for there  to be a strong disability awareness program or have the option of different programs to be implemented into schools.

In Indiana and Virginia disability education is more common, I’m not exactly sure what the cause of that is. Perhaps the state budget has caused problems and stopped the progression, but it needs to be addressed. Those who have special needs should be not thought of as outcasts but accepted in the classroom and by their peers. No child should have to deal with bullying or ridicule and if there is something that has been proven to curb this. Why isn’t the state doing anything about it?

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Best buddies

The high school I went to was separate from Kathy’s. I wish that they had offered this program at my school since it really made such a difference in my sister’s life.  Best Buddies is a program that teams kids in high school and even students in college with kids and adults with disabilities.
They get to hang out with them and go on outings, and just bond. The buddies Kathy has would give her little gifts which she has proudly displayed in her bedroom. She would talk so much about them and my family and I were so happy she had people at her school who would look out for her and cared about who she was.

Autism awareness

About 5 years ago I used to baby sit my neighbor’s daughter  Jackie . She was the cutest little girl and loved to play dress up and watch Teletubbies and Blue’s Clues. When she turned 2 though, it was becoming apparent that she might have a disability- she wasn’t able to talk in full sentences and would react with outbursts occasionally. Though the family moved before it became very significant, Jackie had been diagnosed with Autism.

Autism is becoming better known due to some celebrities who have children who have developed the disability. There isn’t a definitive cause of why it develops. I got the opportunity last year to see two men from the film “Wretches and Jabbers” speak at Chapman. Since their disability is somewhat severe they communicate through computers. They type what they are wanting to say and then it is read aloud by the computer. The documentary on this was amazing- really moving and I’d encourage everyone to see it.

To be able to convey their thoughts and hear how immensely intelligent both of these men are was awesome.

Sparkle Effect

I stumbled upon this organization one day and again was really inspired by what this group of cheerleaders have done.

The Spartan Sparkles

In 2008  a group of high school cheerleaders from Iowa  created a team that included children with disabilities to cheer with them at the football games. The group became so popular that more and more girls kept joining.  The team is run completely by the students and is integrated into the sports at that school. The  program has since become a non-profit called “The Sparkle Effect.” They offer help for those wanting to start a team at your school, instructions about how to go about doing it, a uniform grant program and on-site training! These young women have inspired 75 other schools in the United States to create inclusion cheer programs and letting those with special needs  to really shine!

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Great programs for teaching disability awareness

I wasn’t able to find the website of the program my school used in Indiana but was able to find these programs that teach about disabilities to students in a very effective and appropriate way- but are still interesting and will keep them engaged in the lesson.
1.FRIENDS WHO CARE®

2. COUNT ME IN®
3. Cromwell Center for Disability Awareness

Dangers to those with disabilities

Kathy is now at Fullerton College completing a program through the school of continuing education  for adults with disabilities. Here they learn to cook, shop and take care of themselves that way in the future Kathy can move into a group home and be independent.  She already knows how to take the bus and can map her routes all by herself! I look at those books and get so confused but she has it down. The program they have at this school is fantastic but the location is less than ideal.
This is scary and truly upsetting that this happened and at my sister’s school.  What if that had been her that he decided to follow and ultimately rape.  I can’t even imagine the grief of this woman or her family having to try and explain why something that terrible would happen to her.
This monster was luckily convicted and has a life sentence of 30 years for his actions. As good as it was that he was caught abuse of those with disabilities are not isolated incidents. My friend Emily mentioned a story about a janitor at her high school, El Modena, in Orange, Calif. sexually assaulting a special education student. After looking into past articles trying to find more about this  I read  that the janitor was convicted, got only 6 years for his actions.
This happens way too often, those with disabilities shouldn’t have to worry about being preyed on by sick people like those mentioned.

Football team protects a student with special needs

Chy Johnson, a teenager with special needs, was starting to get bullied at her high school in Queen Creek, Arizona.  Students threw trash at her, teased her until she would come home crying everyday. Her mom reached out to one of the boys that went to her daughter’s school to see if he could give her some help in finding out who was bullying her daughter.  That student the quarterback of the school’s football team, Carson Jones, saw this as an opportunity to do more than that.

Instead of just listing off names he and some other varsity football players started to watch out for Chy.  They eat lunch with her, walk her to her classes, and are there to the end of the day. I think this is awesome! These guys have completely turned this girl’s high school experience around. High school is hard enough, getting bullied for a disability you were born with shouldn’t happen. These football players really stepped up and I really admire them so much for what they’ve done.

Watch the video here: Football team takes special needs student under their wing

I’d love more students to look out for those who have special needs because bullying does happen and it happens often.  Kids often see those with special needs as weird or abnormal so they make fun of them because they don’t understand why those with disabilities react the way they do to things.  Having a program put in elementary schools to help educate students and have them understand a little more will definitely help combat this problem and hopefully alleviate bullying making school a place that those with special needs don’t have to fear.