Hastings Middle School students are committing themselves a pledge to make their school a place of acceptance for everyone, every day.
The Inclusion Revolution is a spin-off of the “Spread the Word to End the Word” fundraiser, which Hastings has held for the past five school years. Inspired by his involvement in a districtwide cultural competency commitment as well as a t-shirt design he saw, Hastings intervention specialist Kyle Evans wanted to build on the idea of inclusion for the current school year.
During a staffwide training at Hastings, he held a breakout session called “Join the Inclusion Revolution.”
“I wanted to do more to help make it schoolwide and get many students involved,” Evans said.
He created “Inclusion Revolution” t-shirts to sell as a fundraiser for field trips that he and other staff members take with disabled students. With the help of peers, they wrote an Inclusion Revolution pledge that more than 530 students at Hastings took.
By taking the pledge, the students promised to be inclusive, kind and helpful to everyone and to not exclude anyone “no matter what they look like, act like or where they're from.”
Students say the Inclusion Revolution has helped their peers “realize that people are different and that is okay” and has made students “feel like they belong more and … (are) more connected at Hastings.”
The t-shirt fundraiser concluded on the day of the annual March Madness event, which Evans has organized since the 2013-2014 school year. It was the first time he has tied the March fundraiser in with the March Madness event for students with disabilities.
The event offers a full rotation of activities for those students — such as catching, passing and dribbling — and peers from across the district are invited to participate.
“We encouraged everyone who purchased a shirt — especially those who volunteered to assist students during the March Madness event — to wear their shirts on the day of the event,” Evans said. “We spoke to peers who volunteered about making March Madness an inclusive event, participating alongside those with disabilities, helping them do their best with each of the activities available.”
For the students who helped with March Madness and took the Inclusion Revolution pledge, the t-shirts are a tangible sign of a continuing commitment to inclusion at Hastings.
For students who doesn’t feel included, one student said, they should know that “they are not alone and that they can hang out with the person wearing a shirt.”