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EC student’s effort is raising ability awareness PDF Print E-mail
Written by Denise Freitag Burdette   
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 10:26 PM

When a student suicide in Greensburg made headlines a few years ago, the students of East Central High School took action.

The students took ownership over addressing the issue of bullying, said ECHS guidance counselor Rhonda Murdock.

One result was the creation of The Unity Group, students dedicated to cause of uniting everyone at the school, she said.

The grassroots effort has more of an impact that the school administrators setting up an assembly, she said.

One of the students who helped form the group three years ago is senior Jacob Griffin, Bright.

He leads the way on many projects at the school, including the activities planned next week in conjunction with Disability Awareness Month in March.

“Each March, Disability Awareness Month is celebrated throughout Indiana. And given that adults and children with disabilities represent slightly more than 19 percent of Indiana’s population, disability awareness is important for all of us. ... Month is to increase awareness and promote independence, integration and inclusion of all people with disabilities,” according to Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities.

The state council’s theme this year is Community Connections.

One way The Unity Group will connect the students to the community is to have different groups as table sponsors each day at ECHS.

Table sponsors for the week:
Monday- Unity Group
Tuesday- Cincinnati autism group
Wednesday- Southeastern Indiana NAMI
Thursday- ARC of Dearborn County
Friday- Special Olympics

Students also will wear colors in honor of each day’s themes:
Monday- anti-bullying awareness, teal or gray
Tuesday- autism, tie-die or multi-color
Wednesday- mental illness, pink
Thursday- ADD/ADHD, orange
Friday- Down syndrome, blue

“Jacob has taken the initiative ... he is spearheading the activities,” said Murdock.

In the past, ECHS has participated in Disability Awareness Month, but not to this extent.

One year the English Department took the lead showing the movie Smile as Big as the Moon, about a special education teacher and his class.

There also was an essay contest addressing how people with disabilities are perceived in the community, said Marci Trossman, English teacher and co-sponsor of The Unity Group along with Murdock and teacher Patty Schnecker.

“If it wasn’t for Jacob, none of this would be taking place. “He does a lot of great things at our school,” said Jamie Ballart, ECHS assistant principal.

Ballart also is on The Unity Group Committee along with guidance director, Bev Ester.

Different activities during the week also will be held to help increase awareness and try to show how disabilities impact daily living, said Murdock.

Griffin is working on gathering more donations for banners and he hopes to reach out to some local businesses about becoming more handicapped accessible, he said.

He has ordered more than 3,000 wristbands to hand out that will state “Willing and able, not disabled,” he said.

Sunman-Dearborn middle and intermediate schools also will be participating in awareness week, said Griffin.

For more information about Disability Awareness Month, go to www.indianadisabilityawareness.org

Last Updated on Friday, March 01, 2013 6:11 PM


+1 #1 2013-03-05 21:07
I know Jacob Griffin and this does not surprise me. He is a tremendous young man who is motivated by helping others.