Taking Healthy Steps Toward Inclusion
Kimberly is a Special Olympics Youth Leader and a student at a first-year Unified Champion Banner School in Texas. While her school has made inclusion a priority over the past few months, she has recognized an area for improvement: Healthy lunch options. Kimberly noticed that students were eating unhealthy meals during lunch, which has had negative effects on her classmates’ overall health. Kimberly’s Youth Innovation Project will create a program where students from special education and general education classrooms can meet and grow healthy options, the school will increase its inclusivity and overall wellness.
To share with about the importance of healthy foods, and to learn more about where food comes from, Kimberly will lead a group of students to plant a Victory Garden. The garden will be planted in an easily accessible spot on campus so students can easily tend to the food and the student body can see the growth of the organization and the garden. Numerous student organizations will be involved in the formation of the garden. Organizations such as the Culinary Arts program, Student Council, and Ready Set Tech will set up the garden beds, create a schedule of works days, and reach out to others who may be interested in getting involved with the project. Different classes have already shown interest in the garden and plan to volunteer their time to help once the semester begins and the garden is planted.
Kimberly noticed that many steps towards inclusion had happened in her school, but that there were opportunities to develop stronger relationships among students from all backgrounds, with and without intellectual disability. The school Victory Garden will be a unifier on campus.
To Kimberly, the Unified Generation is composed of young people who are fighting real and big problems in the world. She speaks up when she hears someone using derogatory comments towards individuals with disabilities and directs them to resources to learn more about disabilities and ways to positively engage with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kimberly and the Unified Generation are planting the seeds of change and tending a garden of inclusion by fighting and challenging the big problems they face in Texas and around the world.