Raising Awareness to Grow the Unified Generation
SO Maryland – Maggie McHugh
Maggie is a Special Olympics Youth Leader and student at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Maryland. As a volunteer for Special Olympics Maryland, Maggie had an idea to change how his school practices inclusion. With the help of the school principal and other staff, and the assistance from SOMD, Maggie will organize an art competition to encourage girls in her school to think about what inclusion looks like and to draft a vision of inclusion. This competition will be judged evenly by a team of both Special Olympics Maryland athletes as well as Stone Ridge students.
The designs would be the student’s way of showcasing what inclusion means to them and how it is present in their lives/ should be present in the other student’s lives. Some workers for Special Olympics Inc. with intellectual disabilities will be assigned to judge the designs. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners of the competition will be presented with cash prizes along with sweatshirts with all of the winning designs on them. To evaluate the change this opportunity has made, a survey will be sent to the whole upper school asking what inclusion means to them and what they do in their everyday lives to include it. In addition to the competition, candy will be distributed to the students and teachers with facts about inclusion and disabilities on them. This tactic is used very often by clubs and organizations within Stone Ridge School and always goes over very well. Mandatory morning assemblies before classes would be the primary place to launch the competition. Additionally, the three winners of the competition will write a short paragraph about the effect this experience had on them and what their designs mean in relation to inclusion.
As Maggie embarks on her journey, she is excited to bring his vision of Unified and inclusion into a reality. To her, being part of the Unified Generation is the future; by “understanding the importance of inclusion during high school, it can lead to widespread change for future generations.”