Be brave in the attempt! Before every Special Olympics sporting event, the athletes say this motto, meaning that no matter how they perform that day they gave an attempt, and they were brave while doing so. But this motto is not only for sports, this motto is for everything and for everyone. For me, my attempt is making inclusion not only second nature to my school and community, but to my country and my world.
My attempt started my freshman year of high school when I was given the opportunity to help make my school a Unified Champion School. I knew that I wanted to work with individuals that have intellectual disabilities and students with autism since I was a little girl. When I walked into the special education classroom the first time my freshman year, I had no idea what was awaiting in my next four years of high school. Before my school was a Unified Champion School, the students with intellectual disabilities would oftentimes eat lunch in the classroom, walk by themselves in the hallways, and have no one to be partners with in class. Now just four years later, not one of them eat lunch in the classroom, not one of them walk down the halls by themselves, and not one of them ever have to worry about finding a partner in class. But my attempt is not over.
I hear the “R-word” a minimum of four times a day. My peers have learned not to say it around me, and if it slips, they say “Ops I forgot you were in the room.” When I hear the “R-Word” shivers immediately go through my body, and I become defensive because if they only knew how it made individuals with intellectual disabilities feel, they would never say it again. Getting people to understand why the “R-Word” is bad is difficult; in my school, the way our Unified Champion School and I are trying to teach people is by making Spread the Word to End the Word week to educate our peers on respect.