On Saturday, April 21st over 100 youth with an without intellectual disabilities from 10 different schools attended a student-led Youth Rally at Hillsboro High School to raise awareness about inclusion and to promote the R-Word Campaign.
The rally was organized and produced by 16 year-old Hillsboro High School student Jori Halpern as part of her senior project, along with the help of Special Olympics Oregon staff. Last year Halpern attended the Youth Rally at Grant High School that Special Olympics Oregon hosted and was so inspired by the event that she decided to organize one at her own school. By hosting the rally, Halpern’s goal was to break down barriers between students with and without disabilities in order to create a more accepting society.
During the first half of the rally students had the opportunity to participate in various activity booths that promoted inclusion, acceptance, respect and sports. Some the activities included creating your own R-Word shirt, signing the R-Word pledge, making friendship bracelets, and a basketball shoot-out that was hosted by Hillsboro Unified basketball youth participants.
The second portion of the event brought everyone together for an assembly styled rally. Since the weather was almost 75 degrees, they decided to have it at their outdoor commons area instead of in the gym. Guest speakers took the stage to share their stories and entertain the crowd. Twin brothers Joseph and Jonathan Jackson told their story about one of them being born with down syndrome and the other without and their involvement in participating in Special Olympics basketball together. Next, Forest Grove High School students Chris Sullivan and Skylar Sharp shared their experience about traveling to the 2012 Special Olympics World Games in Athens, Greece and representing Project UNIFY at the Global Youth Activation Summit. A Hillsboro Unified partner and athlete then spoke about their involvement in Unified sports and the impact that it’s had in their lives. The rally ended with an exciting performance by local musical artist Cam Lasley, who performed four songs and got the crowd up on their feet and dancing!
Project UNIFY is a national project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Its goal is to activate young people around the country in an effort to develop school communities where all young people are agents of change - fostering respect, dignity, and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities by utilizing the programs and initiatives of Special Olympics. Project UNIFY is for students, teachers and educators who believe that: - There should be more opportunities for young people of all ages and ability levels to make friends and work together for change. - Students with intellectual disabilities should become part of the core fabric of the education community and be perceived as assets in their school and community. - Students without intellectual disabilities can and should increase their knowledge, skills and comfort in forming positive social relationships with students with intellectual disabilities and come together to address societal issues. - Policymakers and education leaders should develop policies and support quality practices that encourage positive school climates with safe and nurturing learning environments for all students. Project UNIFY initiatives include a host of core activities, both on the national and the grass-roots level. Local projects that meet Project UNIFY objectives are supported through grants for local Special Oympics Oregon Programs.
Special Olympics Oregon is pleased to announce that Doug Trice is a recipient of this year’s NRTA With Our Youth! Excellence Award. Award recipients were chosen for outstanding service to youth in the state, local and individual categories by an independent selection panel. Mr. Trice received one of three Excellence Awards in the individual category. Doug Trice developed a year-round athletic program for youth with intellectual disabilities used at local, state and national levels. Even while holding a full-time job, Doug volunteers more than 25 hours per month overseeing 15 adult volunteers and 50 athletes. Some of his tasks include overseeing certification of personnel, conducting leader orientations and training sessions, recruiting volunteers and coaching. In addition, he personally donated $5,000 and has raised $8,000 for the program through various fundraisers. About the NRTA With Our Youth! ProgramThe NRTA With Our Youth! Program is committed to learning, voluntary service and civic participation. For the first three years of the program, NTRA made a pledge to serve 1.5 million youth in 2,000 communities with a total of 45 million service hours through its affiliated state retired educators associations (REAs). The goal was met and exceeded. About NRTAFounded in 1947 by retired educator Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community is a division of AARP. NRTA is the largest national organization that represents the interests of 50+ educators, with a membership of more than one-million active and retired higher-ed and K-12 educators and school personnel at the local, state and national level. NRTA members are dedicated to continuous educational opportunity, advocacy, and service as a means of safeguarding the economic security, work opportunities, and future well-being of all generations. Visit NRTA’s Website at www.aarp.org/nrta for more information. About AARPAARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. AARP has offices throughout North and South America. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors.
My name is Joel Goodwin, and I am a Sergeant with the Corvallis Police Department. I have worked for CPD for about 13 years, and have been involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics the entire time. I found out fairly quickly that it is easy to become involved, and the Athletes I meet as a result are inspiring.I had the distinct honor of being chosen to represent Oregon law enforcement in the Final Leg of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. I was one of just over 100 law enforcement officials from around the world selected for this three week mission of helping to spread the word about the World Games and Special Olympics. We were split into three separate routes to maximize our efforts.From June 6th through June 27th I was part of a team covering Cyprus and the Greek Isles. All told we made close to 50 presentations during our journey, stopping a cities large and small. It was an incredible experience on many levels; getting to see so much of Greece on our whirlwind tour was just the icing on the cake.I was impressed with the reception we received from the Greek (and Cypriot) people. No matter where we went, people stopped what they were doing to cheer for us as we carried the Flame of Hope through the streets to various presentation sites. We were warmly welcomed with kind words, applause, dancing, and food. There is no way to replicate the hospitality we received.Just as significant was the experience of getting to know the other Torch Runners. We had people from all over the world on our route: Ecuador, Poland, Latvia, Australia, Paraguay, Portugal, and of course Greece and the USA. It was impressive to see the worldwide dedication we shared to the Torch Run and Special Olympics. We started the trip as a bus full of strangers, but by the end of our journey we had become a family, building on our common tie to the Law Enforcement Torch Run.There was one Torch Runner in particular that I was fortunate to have as a room mate. You see, we also had three Special Olympics athletes on our route: Stephanie, Panos, and Adam. Adam and I were room mates for the duration of the trip, and if given the choice I wouldn’t have anyone else to share the adventure with. I will admit I was a little stressed out during the first few days as Adam and I figured each other out, but it was an eye-opening experience to really see how someone with intellectual disabilities overcomes life’s challenges. I was impressed by Adam’s confidence as he spoke to audiences large and small (15 speeches during the trip!). I was proud of Adam’s determination in earning his Associate’s Degree at his local Community College. But most of all I was awestruck by Adam’s attitude. No matter how tired, hungry, sweaty, sunburned, thirsty, or sore he was he maintained a positive demeanor that was fairly contagious. Adam could not be defeated; he is an inspiration to us all.
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