photo by Jedidah Taylor
November 2, 2015
All students are not able to have the same experiences, and students with special needs are not given the same opportunities during their high school years.
On Oct. 9, senior Amanda Higgs, senior Jania Walker, junior Tyersten Kimber, sophomore Aline Kennedy, and senior Alyssa Quinn cheered at the pink out game. Cheerleading coach Tandrea Jinks offered the girls an opportunity to create an unforgettable high school memory. She put together a special cheer team, and the girls were shaking their pom poms at the pink out game.
Opportunities like this should be given to special needs students to assure them a memorable high school experience.
According to M&L Special Needs Planning Organization, two in every seven families out of 72.3 million included in the Census Bureau have at least one family member with a disability.
Special needs students are overlooked and do not get the chance to participate in the same general activities as other students. They cannot partake in a variety of activities due to the social consequence of others people responding irrationally. Because the general public does not understand these special needs, many students may not be able to participate in many common activities like sitting with the other students during a pep rally or eating breakfast in the cafeteria with the rest of the student body.
“When people can’t relax, they’re fearful, and they simply choose not to interact with people with disabilities,” President of the National Organization on Disability Carol Glazer said. “And that’s so unfortunate because it only perpetuates the stereotypes and fears that people have.
People forget that individuals with disabilities are human beings with feelings as well. If people would actually try to interact more, then special needs students may feel more comfortable participating in social events.
”If society would just treat people with disabilities as equals, interacting with them would come naturally. People with disabilities should be treated with the respect someone would want for themselves,” Glazer said.
“Starting a disabilities cheer squad was an idea that I borrowed from another school that I’d thought would be great to have at McEachern. It allowed my kids the opportunity to do some of the average high school activities that we do to bring those memories, because high school is fun,” cheerleading coach Tandrea Jinks said.“When I came to the idea, I went to the head coaches, and they supported me 100 percent.”
Jinks created a way for the girls to participate in a school activity that they never would have before.
“It’s not that we’re different,we can do certain stuff, and certain stuff we can’t do. But most stuff general ed can do we can do too, it just takes a lot longer, and there is practice and help that goes with it,” senior Jania Walker said.
Allowing special needs students to participate more in school events gives them more confidence and can change their life.
When the girls’ parents heard of this unique opportunity, they were ecstatic, and the gesture meant so much to them that they all cried together at that first game.