Wish Week at Horizon High School has become a staple event at the school where students raise money to support a number of worthy causes from close-to-home efforts to support families in need to raising money for organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
When student leaders started planning for this year’s event, they wanted to find a way to have it reflect the school’s goals of inclusion.
“When kids came to me with the idea, I was 100 percent in support,” said Horizon Principal Kim Brady. “Then, when we had multiple clubs and activities and student government, our Unified Club and various student groups involved, it was just a cause every one could rally around.”
Senior Student Government leader Maddi Castellano and Lindsey Like, a junior, said they wanted to support the work of their school’s own Significant Support Needs program and also filter it down to feeder elementary and middle schools.
Working with representatives from the school Unified Club, Wish Week became Inclusion Week with themed days such as “Camo Day” to recognize that not all students are always seen and “Tie Dye Day” to remind everyone to blend together.
There was also a fundraising component of the week as students worked to raise money to purchase adaptive physical education equipment for Significant Support Needs students at Glacier Peak Elementary and Shadow Ridge Middle School. The goal was to raise $5,000 and money-raising efforts included an online fundraiser, the sale of red Wish Week/Inclusion Week T-shirts and students paying $2 to wear hats on “Hat Day.”
The fundraiser was an overwhelming success and, at the end of the week, Glacier Peak and Shadow Ridge students and staff were special guests at the school’s spirit assembly.
“We just wanted to raise awareness for the SSN programs at different schools throughout the middle schools in our district,” Like said. “We hope that, when they come to Horizon, they know that they have a home and know that they will be included.”
Horizon Senior Lillie Stoolman leads the school’s Unified Club, which bring students together through athletic events and everyday school activities.
“Unified means that everyone is included and we can all just be together as one and we all don’t think of our disabilities but the abilities we have individually,” she said.
Unified Sports, founded in 2008 and funded through the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education, use Special Olympics as a way to build inclusion and tolerance in schools. Unified Sports are now in more than 4,500 elementary, middle and high schools in the United States.
Five Star Schools has been home to its own unified sports program since 2014. The program allows students with developmental disabilities and peer mentors from across the district’s five comprehensive high schools to compete together in a co-ed sports league.