Students break through closed doors and lead the charge in raising awareness around accessibility and inclusion issues through WE are One campaign.

BY STAFF

 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines campaign as: “An organized course of action to achieve a goal.” For educators and students involved in WE Schools, the word “campaign” means this and much more.

The added value stems from the positive imagery the noun conjures in reference to WE Schools. Why? We’ll give you 10+ reasons why in the form of what are called action campaigns.

As part of the WE Schools program, participants are invited to take part in multiple action campaigns throughout the year. While each is different in its own way—ranging from local food drives (WE Scare Hunger) to fundraisers for an international cause (WE Create Change)—every campaign has one thing in common: compassion.

With over 10 action campaigns spread across the school semesters, students and educators can access WE’s library of resources to take action on behalf of the local and global causes close to their heart year-round.


Fact: Did you know that WE Schools offers over 10 action campaigns to get students involved with their local and global community? View them all here.


Among the themes of the campaigns is raising awareness around important social issues. For students of Lynbrook High School’s WE Club, one issue in particular brought the school together as one.

Fittingly, the name of this campaign is WE are One, an initiative that strives to make communities more accessible and inclusive by utilizing technology as a tool for social change.

For this high school in San Jose, California, coming together for WE are One kept WE Club members busy organizing an awareness week. This included making informational posters to hang around campus, as well as utilizing the info they found in the campaign resources and through their own research to create daily facts about accessibility and inclusion, shared over social media.


Tip: Helpful infographics are included in WE are One’s downloadable campaign guide. Handy for making posters to raise awareness.


By the end of an awareness week like Lynbrook’s, your school as a whole could have a greater understanding of issues like gender diversity—did you know that gender diverse workplaces are 15 per cent more likely to outperform their peers?—on top of new found knowledge found in light of myth busting. Example: 90 per cent of people with disabilities do well or better at their jobs as co-workers without a disability.

For those out there interested in putting on a similar event for WE are One, WE Club members Lynn Fernandez and Grace Chu share the inside scoop on Lynbrook’s awareness week. Break out a pad and paper, you’ll want to take notes from these pro campaign organizers!

Quote. We believe in a better world. hashtag weareone. Unquote. Quote. Over one billion people live with disabilities. hashtag we are one. Unquote. Quote. talent is diverse. Hashtag we are one. Unquote.
 

Why was supporting the WE are One campaign important to you?

Lynn (L): My godfather, who has been disabled since his childhood, is one of the most active, adventurous people I know, so this campaign definitely had a personal impact on me. I was tired of the stigmas revolving around people with disabilities. Making infographics about this topic seemed like an effective way to combat numerous stereotypes surrounding it.

Grace (G): We got to come together as a club to raise awareness about disabilities, specifically mental disabilities, at our school. Just the act of running and planning this campaign made us more aware, and by making posters and posting on social media, we raised awareness and positivity throughout our school.
 

What made your WE Club decide to put together a week-long awareness week?

L: Grace can probably better answer this question! We felt it was important for the school and our community to get involved in this campaign. Spreading the campaign throughout the week made it possible for us to do more online and have more people in school involved.

G: A week seemed like a perfect amount of time to keep posters up around campus (though we left them up for as long as possible after that), post on social media (1 post per day for a week meant 5 posts total, which were easy to create), and [the week also] included a day where another club on campus (oriented around people with disabilities) met and therefore allowed us to join their club for that day.
 

How did you get the event off the ground?

G: We started off by researching on disabilities, finding facts, quotes, and videos. We compiled them on a document, all contributing and researching the best we could. I found myself being amazed at the facts we found. Some incredible world-changers and athletes had struggled with disabilities and accomplished great things through and with them.
Next, we met up to create posters with these facts and quotes. This took a few hours, but was a great experience to work with fellow passionate students. We put these posters around school shortly after. For the online part of this campaign, we found videos and made graphics to post daily, sharing our own input or thoughts about them.

We also joined a fellow club on our campus, Viking Buddies, for a meeting that week and got to interact with students with disabilities. They happened to be hosting a scavenger hunt that day, and I had an amazing time. The club and people were all so welcoming and the atmosphere felt so positive and inviting. I continued going to several club meetings of theirs after.
 

Where there any challenges you encountered during the campaign?

G: It was a bit stressful to do so many things in one week, on top of schoolwork and tests, but working together as a team definitely helped. We didn’t have many people on the team for this campaign, approximately five, but the officers were also a big help in making everything happen.
 

If you were speaking to someone who has never heard of WE or the WE School campaigns, how would you describe the effect participating in the WE movement has had on you?

L: This is going to sound super cheesy, but being a part of WE has seriously changed my life! I mentioned earlier that I didn’t really know why I chose to be a part of WE as a freshman, but I stuck with it for some reason… that reason being how amazing it felt to be a part of a group of students who are truly impacting the world. WE is unique in the sense that you are able to actually see how you have made a difference by being able to track handmade items such as a rafiki, or get inspired to continue or start working on a campaign after listening to all of the amazing guest speakers, who themselves have been impacted by WE in some way. It is rare to find an organization that is so focused on how students can make a difference, but WE definitely falls under that category!

G: The WE movement is a powerful, impactful cause and organization that helps those in need in third world countries and at home. WE raises awareness for many causes and allows people of all ages—even young students—to make a difference and build leadership skills along the way. WE finds potential in everyone and allows people to step up, no matter where they are from or what talents or skills they currently have. WE isn’t confined to a few causes, but allows people to run their own campaigns on things they are passionate about, such as women’s rights or hunger.
 

What are your plans this upcoming year with WE? More campaigns?

L: Yes, our club plans to take on more campaigns in the upcoming school year. Given how well We Are One went last year, we will most definitely incorporate that into our plans this year! For myself specifically, I would love to be a part of the ME to WE trips next summer and do even more to make an impact across the world!

 


About Lynn:

When I was a freshman, I dragged a friend of mine to a club meeting without really knowing much about it. After hearing about what WE is all about and our school’s plan to build a well in Ecuador (which we were able to do!), I immediately knew I wanted to get involved. I was a PR officer for one year, and am currently the co-president.

About Grace:

[My involvement in WE] started in middle school, when my friend Katherine invited me to join them for the campaign WE are Silent. I wasn’t sure how to get more involved at that time, since there wasn’t an official club, but eagerly participated in the campaign again each year when Katherine told me it was happening. A few years later, when she started a club with other students at Lynbrook, I quickly joined. I have been involved with WE from the second semester of my sophomore year when the club was started, until the end of my senior year this past spring. I started out as just a member for the first few months, and became a Secretary intern the fall of that year, 2015. In 2016, I was a co-campaign officer and planned many campaigns together [with the club].

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