William Paca Middle School recently hosted Disability Awareness Week as an effort to promote understanding and awareness of those with disabilities.
“Most people do not realize that there are more than one billion people worldwide who live with some form of a disability and who must overcome challenges each and every day,” said Shanna Marte, William Paca Middle School National Junior Honor Society advisor. “We believe it is important to teach our students that we are all different and we must understand the importance of acceptance. Through the various activities we held during the week, we hoped to educate our students about different types of disabilities, provide a forum in which to ask questions and break down stereotypes and preconceptions regarding disabilities.”
Students and staff kicked off the week with a visit from John Lee Cronyn, a young man with Down Syndrome who started his own business with his family called, “Crazy Socks,” an effort to spread love and happiness through something that he loves – socks with colorful and wild designs.
Throughout the week, students also pledged to eliminate the use of the “R” word (retarded) from their vocabularies, as well as signed their names to a “We Accept” Autism Awareness ribbon in the cafeteria.
Students also had the opportunity to experience what it is like to have a physical, hearing and vision disability through activities in the gym in which students were able to experience it firsthand. The goal is for students to understand these challenges and generate discussions on how all can help to make changes.
Disability Awareness Week concluded with an inspiring message to the student body from Rohan Murphy, a nationally recognized youth speaker who lost his legs at birth. Mr. Murphy shared with students his challenges and how he overcame them and eventually became a championship-caliber high school wrestler and later a member of the Penn State University wrestling team. Now an accomplished powerlifter who competes in competitions all over the world, Murphy demonstrated his tremendous strength to students and even showed off some wrestling moves. Murphy, whose life’s motto is “No Excuses,” encouraged the students to try new things and not be afraid to fail.