The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

The student news site of Woodbridge High School

Golden Arrow

Warriors Promote Inclusivity During Abilities Awareness Week

Abilities Awareness Week at Woodbridge High spreads empathy and appreciation for the Extensive Support Needs (ESN) community
Niki Hamedani
Abilities Awareness Day gives representation to the ESN community, fostering unity on our campus.

From April 22 to April 26, Warrior Nation staff and students organized the annual Abilities Awareness Week, which aimed to increase understanding of the ESN community.

As a club aiming to foster empathy between the ESN community and general education students, Warrior Nation played a prominent role in making Abilities Awareness Week an opportunity to promote acceptance in a diverse student population.

“We hold Abilities Awareness Week to help the general education students of Woodbridge [High] understand misconceptions and stereotypes around disabilities. Being aware and having an understanding of one another creates empathy,” senior and board member of Warrior Nation Gabrielle Rodriguez said.

With the help of No Place for Hate and the Associated Student Body (ASB), Warrior Nation organized various lunchtime activities, including trivia on disabilities, a blindfolded relay and creating sensory crafts.

“[They’re] activities where we can learn about…differences that may hinder someone by having other people experience them,” senior and ASB Human Relations Commissioner Chloe Maddox said.

The main event of Abilities Awareness Week was Abilities Awareness Day, a community inclusive project, held on April 24 at Woodbridge High and hosted by the
Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) Special Education Department and Community Advisory Committee.

Warriors participate in a variety of activities, such as face painting, on Abilities Awareness Day (Niki Hamedani)

Abilities Awareness Day featured prominent speakers, music, an art gallery, activities organized by Warrior Nation and informational resources for parents of ESN students.

The keynote speaker was Caley Versfelt, the founder of Tides of Kindness, a business selling apparel that promotes diversity and inclusion within communities. As a motivational speaker with down syndrome, Versfelt emphasizes the capabilities of ESN individuals.

“I want to change the narrative on what people with disabilities can achieve,” Versfelt said. “I inspire people to have the self confidence to go after their goals, to dream big and never give up. I encourage not letting society put limits on what you can accomplish.”

As the need for emphasis on inclusivity in school grows, Abilities Awareness Week served as one of the many events encouraging allyship with the ESN community in IUSD schools in recent months.

“Schools have started to do [these types of events] in small increments and now we’re expanding and trying to incorporate it with everyo ne,” education specialist Alexander Doty said. “[It] encourages students from all backgrounds to participate and celebrate and really focus on what you can do.”

Through this event, Warrior Nation has been able to educate the student population and the community about individuals’ varying experiences and abilities. Additionally, the event has brought families and students together as a supportive community to highlight the accomplishments of ESN individuals.

“One by one we can change [the] hearts and attitudes to create a more welcoming and inclusive world. Since over one in four people have a visible or non-visible disability, many of us will have a friend or family member with a disability touch our lives,” Versfelt said.

By celebrating diversity and acceptance of all individuals, Warrior Nation has allowed for Abilities Awareness Week to help students find common ground with each other and recognize all individuals’ strengths.

Story continues below advertisement
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Leah Wong
Leah Wong, Writer
Hey Warriors! I'm Leah Wong and I will be a staff writer for the Golden Arrow this year. This will be my first year in advanced journalism, and I'm excited to be more engaged in our school's news community. I plan to create engaging stories that will shine a spotlight on different parts of our diverse community and represent the different groups and perspectives on campus. In the process, I hope to discover more about the students at Woodbridge and give back to my community. Lets make this a great year Warriors!
Niki Hamedani
Niki Hamedani, Writer
Hi! Im Niki and I'm one of your 23-24 golden arrow writers! :)