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Students Sign Pledge of Kindness to Spread the Word: INCLUSION!

Spread the word: INCLUSION! Students across the district united today to make a pledge to be inclusive, an important part of the district’s initiative to embrace the many ways in which students learn and how to appreciate individual differences. In addition, some students watched a video called “Spreading the Word” and participated in various activities and minilessons to allow for further understanding of and discussion about this important concept.

The pledge to inclusion took the physical form of students across all five schools signing a banner to attach their names to the message of ‘Spread the Word Inclusion’ and then receiving a sticker.  When asked what the day was about, kindergartener Jullian succinctly said, “We're all spreading the word INCLUSION.”  (A big word for a kindergarten student!) Owen followed up by saying that signing his name to the pledge means that “being kind is a way to be inclusive.” His friend Leo added, “We can all be friends, because we should all love each other.”

That sentiment was echoed among HS students with one who signed going on to say, “If I can just make someone smile, that makes me happy.” She then adhered her sticker to one of her notebooks.

In Ms. Ferrino’s kindergarten class, students worked together on a Padlet to figure out ways of being inclusive. “We brainstormed as a group what inclusion can be, and then filled in words, ways and actions to demonstrate how to be inclusive,” said Ms. Ferrino.

At Morse, first and second grade students came together in the auditorium and enthusiastically signed the Pledge. Taking turns, and “being polite to everyone while signing” was one way AJ demonstrated being kind.  While patiently awaiting her sticker after signing the Pledge, Natalie stated, “By writing my name, I am promising to be kind to everybody.”

Lunch at Washington Irving was animated as the students were able to discuss their thoughts on the day and how we can all be more inclusive. Third graders Lily and Jayla agreed that inclusion means “we should treat people with kindness and be respectful of others.”  When asked how they would be inclusive, third grade students Mason and Emma, along with fourth graders, Ariel and Amy, were like-minded in stating that they wouldn’t leave anyone out at recess and would ask someone who was alone to play with them.  Fourth grader Ryan, when asked why inclusion is important, wisely answered, “It's just always easier to be nice to people.”

Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services Scott Dorn was present during the lunch hour when students were signing the pledge and commented how proud he is to see students taking this seriously. “We are committed to being inclusive throughout the year and, at the same time, it’s great to have a day when our students can take a few minutes to really focus on what this means and how they can contribute to making our schools a better place.”

Founded in 2009 as Spread the Word to End the Word, the movement focused on eliminating the use of the word ‘retard(ed)’, and worked to fight exclusion, especially against those with developmental disabilities. The group joined with the Special Olympics and Best Buddies in an effort to reach thousands of schools by 2018. Today is officially known as Spread the Word, the mission is not to just eliminate hurtful words, but encourage everyone to answer the call and collectively take action to create socially inclusive places to learn, work, and live.

Like Harry Styles sings  “Maybe we can find a place to feel good and we can treat people with kindness,” it seems that throughout the Tarrytown district inclusion equals kindness.  Third grader Simon said it best, “Smile! Because it makes the world a better place, including others.”