First Ability Awareness Week Allows Students to Embrace Inclusivity


Courtesy of Melody Resendez

Senior Joseph Sevilla plays the piano during the lunchtime activities at Ability Awareness Week to showcase the work by Unified Sound.

The special education department and ASB collaborated to host the first Ability Awareness Week on April 24-28. The week featured needed activities to bridge the special and general education communities.

IUSD also hosted its 2nd Annual Abilities Awareness Event on April 26 at Northwood High.

Some of the lunchtime activities included a blindfold race, drawing an image from a description, one-armed ball shoot and a Choose to Include Pledge. The event allowed the school to understand the importance of creating an inclusive and empathetic environment, according to Bulldog Crew member and junior Katherine Nuth.

“I think it’s just really important to be mindful about other people, but also learning about that and knowing the importance of [the special education community] and that it’s not a negative thing, but that we should learn to embrace it,” Nuth said.

Junior Makena Wong first presented the idea to special education department co-chairs Melody Resendez and Desiree Shaffer, and they were on board with it, according to Shaffer. 

“I want our students to be welcomed in all parts of the campus and the community,” Resendez said. “I want people to embrace them regardless to see what they can do.”

Resendez and Shaffer also had students who participated in the United programs and presented their talents. Two students and their peer partners from the United Sound program and one student from Concert Band performed at a music performance, and many students participated in the Unified Basketball event at the IUSD Ability Awareness event.

“Just because you have a physical disability or you have a developmental disability or an intellectual disability, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have strengths that you can share with everybody else and that people could benefit from,” Shaffer said. “Why not highlight it and be able to show that to everybody? So, this was the perfect opportunity to do that.”

Resendez and Shaffer continue to have plans for the future and said they hope to carry out new programs like Unified Arts and partnerships with clubs like HALO Dance and Bulldog Crew to bring inclusivity on campus.