While the schools are still on summer break, we in the Special Olympics Northern California office are enjoying reminiscing about our favorite memories from this school year. One of the more moving moments happened at a junior high assembly.
The school asked us to bring a Special Olympics athlete to speak at an assembly to conclude the school’s No Name Calling Week. About 850 antsy junior high students filled the gym and barely paid attention as their school administrators spoke to them. As the students talked among themselves instead of listening to their elders, I grew a little worried about how they would receive our athlete’s speech. Would they listen? Would they talk over her just like they were doing with the admins? How would that make her feel?
But as soon as Stephanie started speaking, my fears dissolved. When it was her turn to talk, all 850 students were silent. Everyone paid attention during her speech and asked respectful and thoughtful questions during the Q&A portion. Many of them came up to her after her speech and thanked her for coming. I think the assembly on the whole and what Stephanie said – and how eloquently she delivered her speech – really made a difference at this school.
You can read all of Stephanie’s speech by clicking here, but we’ve got a couple highlights for you below:
“Before I got involved in Special Olympics, you would never find me speaking to an audience, but just look at me now! I am standing here before you all, speaking about Special Olympics and how much it means to me.”
“I hope you know how hurtful the r-word is and that it is never okay to use it. I hope that if you hear someone say the r-word that you tell them that the word hurts people’s feelings. I hope that if you have ever used the word without realizing how much the word hurts, that you won’t use it again.”
Well done, Stephanie! Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more great stuff from her!
For more information on how you can help spread the word to end the word, please click here.