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INTRODUCTION

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), a group made up of over 200 million people, representing every country, belief system, sexual orientation, gender expression, race, and ethnicity, continue to be excluded and isolated from their peers in schools, workplaces, and communities around the world. By taking the pledge to include, you and your students can commit to acting for meaningful social inclusion and combating the hurtful and dehumanizing effects of exclusion. This toolkit is for educators who want to support their students with and without IDD in promoting inclusion at all school levels. Below you will find ideas, resources, and more so that you and your students can engage every day of the year on what it means to fully include those with IDD. To learn more about how to write and talk about Spread the Word >> Inclusion, view our Core Messaging Toolkit or explore our website at www.spreadtheword.global.

PROVIDE GUIDANCE & SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS

Respectful and inclusive words and actions are essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities. You can support your students in their efforts to make their schools and communities inclusive for all.

CREATE INCLUSIVE SPACES: Be a role model for inclusion in your school.

  • Help create a positive school climate: Model inclusive language, use multiple and diverse examples that speak to all students.
  • Talk with students and other educators about how they can promote inclusion.
  • Plan activities that can be easily adapted.
  • Create opportunities for inclusion through group projects and activities.
  • Teach your students the meaning of inclusion and why it is so important.
  • Encourage your students to take action for inclusion.

BE A MENTOR: Support your students' efforts in promoting inclusion.

  • Start a Special Olympics or Best Buddies club with your students or get involved with an already existing club as an advisor. Coach a Special Olympics Unified Sports team at your school.
  • Help your students speak with other teachers and school administrators about their ideas and needs.
  • Encourage students to reach out to sports teams, student government, service organizations, or other clubs focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as the Gay-Straight Alliance at your schools.
  • Create a network of students, educators, and community members dedicated to fostering inclusion. Work with students to bring new people into the conversation.
  • Challenge your students to learn more about inclusion. Lead the Inclusion Tiles activity from Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools and encourage your students to do their own research.

HOST AN EVENT: Help your students plan an inclusion event at your school.

  • Work with students at your school to host an assembly or pep rally for inclusion. You can host an event on Zoom, create a video, or use social media when in-person gatherings aren’t possible. View this guide from Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® for more ideas for virtual events.
  • Unified Sports and Best Buddies Clubs are a great place to start but consider bringing other clubs in that focus on inclusive practices such as racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, culture, mental health, and more. Check out the video from Yorktown High School below to see how you can involve other clubs!
  • Help students talk to school administrators about logistics and promoting the event using flyers and social media. Find Templates Here.
  • Talk to your students about planning an Inclusion Week around Spread the Word Day in March. Create a theme or challenge for each day, use social media, and have students and community members sign the banner throughout the week.
  • Share why it is important to Pledge to Include. Have students and community members sign the banner or take the pledge online at www.spreadtheword.global/pledge.

YORKTOWN HIGH SCHOOL'S 2020 INCLUSION ASSEMBLY

Students at Yorktown High School hosted an inclusion celebration on Spread the Word's global day of activation. Student-leaders from Yorktown's Best Buddies and Unified Sports clubs worked together and invited other clubs to join in promoting inclusion at their school. Please note, this event took place prior to COVID-19 restrictions. We look forward to a time where we can celebrate inclusion in person again, but until then, we encourage you to stay safe and adapt events for a virtual setting.

YEAR ROUND ACTIVATION IDEAS

Awareness days, holidays, and special times of year can be a great opportunity for activations at your school. Use the times to focus on specific areas of inclusion and to work together with your whole school community.

These awareness days are a great time to discuss intersectionality. For example, have conversations with your students during Pride Month about the intersections between the LGBTQ+ community and individuals with IDD.

SOCIAL MEDIA

A REVOLUTION FROM YOUR PHONE

Social Media is a powerful way to raise awareness for Spread the Word. It allows people to engage in conversations that help change attitudes and drive people to pledge to take their own action for inclusion at www.spreadtheword.global. Here are some ideas for using social media channels to start discussions about inclusion. Educators can use these tips on their own social media platforms, or provide this information to their high-school and college-aged students.

FACEBOOK

  • Like and follow the Spread the Word >> Inclusion Page
  • Re-share articles, videos, and events and your own narrative on inclusion. Contribute to positive discussions in the comments.
  • Post on your own page inviting friends to take the #pledgetoinclude.
  • Share your own story of inclusion with photos from Special Olympics or Best Buddies events at your school.
  • Network with other schools and educators to share best practices.

TWITTER

  • Follow @PledgeToInclude @SpecialOlympics and @BestBuddies
  • Retweet posts to your own page. Include your own words.
  • Use #PledgeToInclude when talking about the Spread the Word Campaign or how you are working to make you community more inclusive
  • Tag teachers, school administrators, and community leaders and challenge them to take the Pledge.

INSTAGRAM

  • Follow @PledgeToInclude
  • Join discussions in the comments or share posts to your own page or story.
  • Post photos or videos from school, Best Buddies, or Special Olympics events and talk about why inclusion is important to you.
  • Be sure to tag our account and use #PledgeToInclude.

BLOGS, TIKTOK, AND MORE

  • These channels can be powerful storytelling tools. There are conversations taking place every day about inclusion, people with intellectual disabilities, sports, or friendship.
  • Find a topic you care about and share your perspective. Engage online communities and spread the word about inclusion.
  • Keep interactions respectful and moving forward by always encouraging people to join in taking the pledge to include.

USE OUR SOCIAL MEDIA TEMPLATES TO SHARE YOUR STORY

Provide your students with these materials for social media. Create a challenge for your class using Inclusion Bingo or another template.

SAMPLE TEXT FOR ANY PLATFORM

  • “I just took the #pledgetoinclude to make the world a more accepting and inclusive place for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I hope you will pledge too! www.spreadtheword.global”
  • “Be a Fan of Inclusion. Help create opportunities for inclusive activities in our school and take the #PledgetoInclude [@tag clubs at your school]”
  • “I pledge #friendship through my words and actions. Will you [@tag other educators]? Pledge now at www.spreadtheword.global to create communities of respect for people with intellectual disabilities and #PledgetoInclude”
  • "At [@tag your school], we pledge to include by celebrating inclusion week every March and working together to create a more inclusive school community. Will your schools join us [@tag other schools in your region]?"

ONLINE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING

RESPONDING TO NEGATIVITY ONLINE:

  • It is important to keep yourself safe. If you feel like you need to, hide negative accounts from your feed.
  • If you see bullying or negative comments online, respond with positivity and information. Lead with compassion and kindness. Arm yourself with your honest feelings. Try to foster understanding.
  • Use those comments as an opportunity to engage the person in conversation. Prepare a few lines of text expressing why inclusive words and actions matter to you. Have it ready to engage in positive conversation. We cannot effect change without confronting the attitudes we hope to change.
  • Most people will respond to this positively. Those who don’t, brush it off! It's likely they’ve heard your message and it sticks with them – maybe they will pledge to include next year! You know why you care about inclusion, so keep going.

RESOURCES FOR ONLINE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING

THANK YOU, EDUCATORS!

Educators are a vitally important part of Spread the Word >> Inclusion. Thank you for all you do to make your schools more inclusive! We would love to hear from you with any questions, ideas, or suggestions at spreadtheword@specialolympics.org.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES