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A Message From the AG Special Olympics Leadership Group

Each day this week the AG Special Olympics Leadership committee will be sharing information with students, staff, and patrons.  Below you will find a video from our AG Special Olympics Leadership team and text of the emails sent daily to AG students and staff.  Please take time to watch, read, and support our Special Olympics Leadership committee.  

Using Person First Language:

People with disabilities are not defined by their ability level. They are perfectly capable of reaching their goals. It is very important that we focus on how we use our language to reflect people with different abilities in a positive light. We can do this by using Person First Language. This gets rid of all the stereotypes and assumptions and just focuses on the person instead of the disability. The most common example is changing the phrasing from “he or she is disabled” to “he or she has a disability.” Just as you would say “person with blonde hair” rather than “brunette person.” Just by changing the wording, adds value to the person we are speaking about. This eliminates many stereotypes, and allows someone with a disability to be treated as they deserve. Just taking this one easy step, will already make our school and community much more inclusive. 

Here are a few more changes to make to your vocabulary:

-Instead of “handicapped” or “disabled” use “person with a disability” or “different ability”

-Instead of calling someone “autistic” say a “person who has autism” because person first language says what someone HAS not IS.

Important guidelines to follow:

-Do not call someone “slow” “special” “sped”

-Do not call someone without a disability “normal” because people with a disability are not more or less normal than anyone else. Instead say someone without a disability. 

-Do not use language that makes some with a disability a victim because having a disability is NOT a tragedy

This kind of language is essential in the inclusion movement. Words DO matter. Think before you speak, and focus on Person First Language!


Acceptance and Friendship

Friendship requires a huge amount of respect. Part of this respect comes from the Person First Language that we talked about yesterday. Friends are so important to us, and no matter our differences we stick by each other's side. Today we will discuss how cool it is to be friends with someone who may have a different ability level than you!

First, I will talk about acceptance. Acceptance can be as easy as saying “hi” to someone in the hallway, or sitting by someone new at lunch. However, this can make a huge impact on anyone. This is no different from someone with a different ability level than you. We need to start seeing people for who they are inside rather than their ability level. 

Acceptance and friendship go hand in hand. Acceptance is the first step to creating a long-lasting friendship with someone. A friendship does not mean that you have to spend a ton of time together outside of school together, but it does mean that you care and support them deeply. People with disabilities have some of the biggest hearts and by forming friendships with them we also begin to grow bigger hearts for others. 

The joy and happiness that our athletes bring to our partners is unreal. The athletes become some of our best friends, and we can learn so much from them. They will always stick by our side and will be some of our biggest supporters. We challenge you today to reach out and form a friendship with someone with a different ability level than you. Trust me, you will feel all this joy I am speaking about.