In the spirit of April’s Autism Awareness month, read about a campaign that local students at Riverbend High School in Spotsylvania have launched to promote inclusiveness and decrease bullying at their school.
This year, Burke Swanson, the Senior Class President at Riverbend High School in Spotsylvania County, decided to do something impactful. He saw that division and a lack of inclusiveness had become a school-wide problem, and with the help of the other Senior Class representatives, launched a school-wide campaign entitled, the We are One Campaign. Burke explains, “We are One is stating that we are one community, and in that community we have diversity.” He hopes that this will be the start of a movement against bullying and for inclusiveness at his school.
The Senior Class representatives made t-shirts to publicize the campaign to the rest of the school, and Burke gave a speech which outlined its goals to the student body. “My hope is that the campaign will bring about respect of the differences that make each person a unique part of Riverbend. By first addressing division in the school, it would then allow the Riverbend students to tackle larger issues. The setup of the school is not going to change; however, what can change are the feelings experienced as each student approaches the end of their assigned hallway.”
“My community is not the only one that struggles with the epidemic that is bullying; stories and videos can be found strewn all across mass media of bullying cases and methods to stop it, but it is not just about fighting the act, it is also about fighting idea,”Burke explains. With this campaign, the Senior Class representatives hope to dispel the notion that a student has to try to be someone they are not to become a part of the in-crowd or to feel like they fit in. By taking a public stand against bullying and for an appreciation of the different but equally valuable gifts and talents that each student brings to the community, Riverbend’s Senior Class leaders hope that the work that they have done this year is one step towards the creation of a more inclusive environment for future Riverbend High School students.
-Nina Parrish, M.Ed.