Staff and students at Peace Arch Elementary and St. John Paul II Academy were feeling a little blue recently – but not because they were sad.
The colour – in the form of T-shirts, bracelets and a pledge – was all about inclusion.
It was about “getting students to pledge to be inclusive and committed to stop using the ‘R’ word,” White Rock RCMP Const. Chantal Sears told Peace Arch News by email, of reasoning behind an event organized for March 4.
The effort was part of the Spread the Word>>Inclusion campaign – led by Special Olympics and Best Buddies – which is focused on “the creation of a new reality: inclusion for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
It grew from Spread the Word to End the Word, a decade-long campaign that launched in 2009 with an aim to end the use of the ‘retarded.’
The local initiative included an opportunity for students at PAE and St. John Paul II Academy to hear from Special Olympian Ivy Snow. Snow, who works at the Morgan Creek Starbucks, spoke of her job as well as of her accomplishments as a volunteer and athlete, Sears said Tuesday.
The day “surpassed my expectations,” Sears said.
“The student leaders at both schools were amazing teaching their peers about kindness and inclusion,” she told PAN.
“It was really well received by everyone and definitely made a positive impact with a ripple effect. They were so excited to hear from Ivy and all (the) abilities she had – from working at a local Starbucks, volunteering and her athletic achievements through SOBC for swimming and bowling.”
Students also signed two ‘Spread the Word’ posters, pledging to be a friend, give everyone a voice, respect abilities, celebrate differences and more.
In a tweet that same day, Sears said it’s not too late for others to make similar pledges.
“Young people, YOUR voices matter!” she said, thanking the students who participated for helping make White Rock a more inclusive city.
It's not too late to #pledgetoincludeSOBC. Young people, YOUR voices matter! Thanks @PeaceArchElem @SJPIIAcademy for helping make #whiterock a more inclusive city! @sobcsociety https://t.co/5R3xxoLH0q pic.twitter.com/AmzqFcxRV3
— White Rock RCMP (@WhiteRockRCMP) March 4, 2020
Last year, Sears challenged PAE students to identify a group in White Rock that was somehow excluded from the community and come up with a way to effect change for people in that group. The preteens focused on seniors, Special Olympics BC, pediatrics at Peace Arch Hospital and low-income families.
Sears felt then that the students had stepped up to the challenge, and expressed a similar sentiment with regard to this year’s effort.
“I’m really proud of everyone who led, participated and pledged!” she said.