Cougars Unite for a Cause

Madeline Murdock , News Editor

Everyday many students across the nation experience discrimination by their peers during the school day. The members of the newly founded club, Project Unify, hope to bring that to an end.
“I think, for a lot of regular students, they’ve never experienced being able to work with kids who are different. You are able see a lot of diversity with Project Unify,” President Emily Hartman said.
Project Unify is a club that allows all students to come together and create an atmosphere of acceptance throughout their school. This club allows students, who may not have been involved before, to participate through sports and student-on-student interaction. Project Unify works together with the Special Olympics to provide a feeling of equality for all students.
“The challenge I was facing, as their teacher, was how to find appropriate and meaningful ways that would benefit my students and meet the current guidelines,” ID Moderate Teacher, Gail Tucker said.
While faced with this issue, Emily Hartman, along with teachers Laura Hartman and Gail Tucker, decided to bring Project Unify to our school after attending a workshop at J.B. Hunt High School. After being informed of what Project Unify was and how it affects all students across a campus, they decided to bring it to our school to provide something “everyone can get involved in,” Hartman said.
They brought together around 100 members from National Honor Society and special education students. Along with making promotional videos for the morning announcements, these members do events like basketball tailgates, holiday parties and they assist with sporting events like the Special Olympics and Field of Dreams.
“My students are developmentally delayed and many have physical disabilities as well. Obviously, these disabilities limit their opportunities for all special needs students,” Tucker said. “However, all of our Wake Forest students are encouraged to join and participate.”
Many schools that have incorporated the Project Unify Club into their school have reported successful outcomes. According to the Project Unify website there has been an increase in student engagement, as well as a decrease in drop-out rates. The most appreciated effect, however, is that students feel more free to celebrate their differences.
Emily Hartman said, “Our main goal is to unite everyone and make everyone aware that we do have other classes at this school that are special disabilities, and a lot of people don’t even know that they’re downstairs. We know everyone is different, but you can still come together and have fun.”