National day supports disability inclusion


HURON — Among many South Dakota schools, Huron School District will participate in activities for Spread the Word Inclusion which is an annual event hosted by the Special Olympics. This national campaign supports accepting and including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, with a theme of “Connection,” for 2021.

The national day which celebrates Spread the Word is the first Wednesday in March each year; however, activities may be taking place throughout the month as each school pieces together separate plans while also accommodating for COVID-19 measures.

Many schools across South Dakota will participate in activities focused on learning about inclusion which center around Special Olympics and education. The Huron School District will participate this year for the third year, with activities to be announced later this month.

Huron Special Olympics Coordinator Amanda Katzenberger explained, “Hopefully by the middle of March we will have the dates planned for activities; it has been a little different this year trying to plan with COVID.”

In previous years, Huron Middle School have hosted learning sessions and activities such as presentations with pledging as well as basketball fundraisers, as part of the Spread the Word global campaign.

“Last year was specifically at the middle school where each classroom took time to go through a PowerPoint talking about inclusion and what that would look like,” Katzenberger noted. “Students were encouraged to take the pledge to inclusion, and then were given out different pencils that read, “choose to include,” on them to remind them of what they learned and to keep on including in the school.”

“We had a similar event where we had a group of middle schoolers go to Washington 4-5 Center and put on a presentation for the fifth-graders about inclusion as well,” she added.

This year with COVID-19 safety measures in mind, Katzenberger highlighted the activities will most likely model closely after a previous set-up, where students were able to approach informational tables themselves.

“We have done tables at lunch where students are able to come and take the pledge as well as talk with representatives from the Special Olympics team, possibly how our events will be this year,” she added. “The students can explore what inclusion is, what it means to them and other people.”

The basketball fundraiser held previously was a lively event to promote inclusion, where teachers would compete against students in teams consisting of Special Olympics athletes as well as students without disabilities.

“At our school district, our Special Olympics team is very well known for being unified teams, where the teams are composed of Special Olympic athletes and students without disabilities as well, all in the same team,” said Katzenberger. “We have a fairly large Special Olympics team in our school, and it is good to promote the team and inclusions throughout the district.”

Redfield also plans to host Spread the Word Inclusion activities, which will last as a week-long event beginning Monday.

Jordann Hansen Redfield Special Education Teacher explained, “We are going to have an assembly over Microsoft teams. We usually do this the week of Spread the Word but it is also Dr Seuss week so we have a full week of events, we wanted to make sure that our Spread the Word event stood out.

“It will be a week-long event and we are going to have dress up days with different colors for different disabilities,” she added.

Last year assemblies were held throughout the district, while in the high school small groups were formed to discuss different topics regarding inclusion.

“We also decorated puzzle pieces and put those throughout the whole school, we then talked about how even though we are all different we fit together as one school family,” Hansen noted.

More than 600 individuals pledged during the Spread the Word events of last year as Redfield School District aims to continue spreading kindness each year.

“It is amazing to see the kids interacting with one another, the kindness that comes out of it,” said Hansen. “Everyone is so accepting already in our school but each year it is really neat to see all of the kindness.”

Other local schools that are listed to participate in events to support Spread the Word Inclusion are Clark and Woonsocket.

For additional information visit spreadtheword.global or contact schools.

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