O.B. Gates Elementary in Chesterfield County, Virginia serves a diverse group of students: children with hearing impairments, severe and mild intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries and autism to name a few categories. Celebrating the abilities of all its students is a priority for the staff. Their Brain Week assembly featured non-verbal students using electronic devices to introduce speakers, 1st graders singing the song “True Colors,” 5th graders acting the Sneetches skit from the Special Olympics Get Into It curriculum, and 4th graders singing the r-word rap the school wrote. The assembly concluded with everyone pledging not to use the words “retard” and “retarded” in demeaning ways.
Sheila Dunn, Gates Elementary librarian, said: “When our students leave Gates Elementary, they will leave with an understanding of what it means to accept others for their differences, to embrace others and encourage their differences, and to include others in their lives no matter what their differences are.”
About Val Reinford: Val Reinford joined Special Olympics Virginia’s staff in 1988. As the Vice President of Local Program Services, Val supervises eight Region Directors who provide support to the local programs and Project UNIFY® schools.