For my LEAD Team this year I had the opportunity to volunteer with Special Olympics during the second annual Leadership Launch. It is a program directed by the Special Olympics of Michigan and ran by student volunteers from Central Michigan University. We invite high schools to send their students with disabilities and the students who help these children to come to Mount Pleasant for a day, where we educate them on how to be inclusive and how to promote inclusivity in their schools.
Each we my LEAD Team meet to have trainings and learn how to facilitate the different activities throughout the day. This year, my team focused a large portion of our trainings on how to use inclusive language. I am so happy we did this because it has changed the way I think and talk about others. I learned to put the person before their disability like saying “the child who is deaf” instead of “the deaf child” and that very common sayings such as “Please raise for the playing of the National Anthem” are not considered inclusive language. Since these trainings I have noticed how common it is for people, especially students, to use un-inclusive language.
Instead of leading a group of kids through all the activities during the day, I was chosen to facilitate on the the activities with another CMU student. Our lesson throughout the day was that when we all come together we can make something bigger than ourselves. We did this by having the students color in random puzzle pieces and then place them on the board. At the beginning of the day, no one could figure out what the puzzle was making but as we collected more and more pieces the meaning became clear.
After the first couple groups we realized that the coordinates for the puzzle were wrong so it became an actual puzzle for us to do. With the help of nearly everyone working on it during lunch and at breaks throughout the day we were able to get it finished and show the students what they had been working towards all day. Two very important lessons can be learned from this; how important it is to work as a team and that sometimes things will not go as planned so being flexible and going with the flow is a crucial aspect when it comes to leadership.