Students Launch 'Inclusion Revolution'

Rock 'N' Respect Week Focuses on Inclusion
Posted on 04/23/2019
Builders Club members in 'spring' attire to kick off Rock 'N' Respect week

Student Club Launches ‘Inclusion Revolution’

There is a group of students who are working hard to start an “Inclusion Revolution” at Northbrook Junior High.

They planned a Rock ‘N’ Respect Week of with dress-alike activities and an after-school “Pack The Place” event on Friday, April 26, where special needs students will play alongside peer mentors in a basketball game. The Friday event will also include challenge games with audience participation, music, raffles, and concessions.

They are hoping to bring the entire student body together to recognize their similarities and celebrate their differences.

“The dress-up days are inclusion-themed because everyone is similar,” said Ryan Kreiter, one of the 8th-grade club members. Monday was spring wear, Tuesday is mismatched clothes, Wednesday is pajama day, Thursday is your favorite band/music shirts and Friday is “Pack in Black” day – encouraging all students to wear all black for the day and join in the “Pack the Place” after-school celebration.

“We’re trying to unite those kids who are socially shy and also get more students involved in our school activities,” said Jack Gaffney, another 8th-grade student. 

The club members are hoping the dress-up days will break down barriers and get more students to talk to one another. The music theme also ties to the Special Olympics of Illinois theme, “Rockin’ Respect” for Differences.

Eighth-grade student Dave Gichner said they hope it encourages students to open up more to each other. “If you see somebody who is not talking to anyone, go talk to them,” he said.

The students came together for this project as part of the Builders Club, a year-round community service club.  The Inclusion Revolution is an end-of-year project to enhance the already accepting environment at the school and bring it to the next level, said Wendy Concklin, a Health Education teacher who co-sponsors the club with drama teacher David Downing.

The effort may also help the school earn a Unified Champion School designation from the Special Olympics of Illinois, Concklin said.

“I really wanted this to be student-focused. So the students came up with the activities and are promoting it to the school through announcements and posters. The Friday event is after school, so it’s the students’ choice to show up, instead of having an all-school assembly where everyone has to go,” she said.

The students have high hopes for the Friday event. They hope the dress-alike days build momentum to Friday. “We hope we can fill up the stands; it would make the mood so different. Just imagine someone making a basket and seeing everyone in the stands cheering for them,” Dave Gichner said.

“I hope it goes farther than Friday,” Ryan said. “Maybe you will remember something different about them from seeing them in the basketball game. Maybe something will come to mind other than their disability.”



Dressed in ‘spring’ wear on Monday, April 22, the Builders Club members are, front row, from left, Jack Gaffney, Ryan Kreiter, and Mallory Gansberg. Back row, from left, Dave Gichner, Jake Battaglia, Levi Giles, and Conor Katsamakis

Rock 'N' Respect team members
Typically developing peers pose with their special needs team mates who will participate in the "Pack the Place" basketball game and celebration, beginning right after school on Friday, April 26. Also shown is Dr. Rosanne Dwyer, Director of Student Services who is retiring after this school year.