Fair teaches Old Bridge teens how to view disabilities

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OLD BRIDGE – About 56 million Americans live with disabilities; one in 10 lives with a severe disability.
This led special education teacher Karen Lewicki to teach students at Old Bridge High School (OBHS) how to view those students with disabilities.
For the third consecutive year, Project Unify and the Peer Leaders at OBHS sponsored an all-day disabilities fair on Feb. 17 to spread the word that a disability is a different ability to learning.
“I feel very strongly that if we can take three students after today and change the way they view people with disabilities then this fair was a success,” Lewicki said.
During the disabilities fair, students in grades 10-12 were exposed to a variety of activities by their peers, who demonstrated what it is like for individuals with visual, multiple learning, sensory or hearing disabilities.
For example, students were asked to trace a maze using a marker while looking through a mirror; this simulated what life is like for a student with a visual disability.
At another station, students were asked to put on headphones with white noise. They were asked to follow simple, verbal instructions. They learned what life is like for a deaf student.
The day-long fair was one of the many activities the high school students participated in to celebrate Unify Week. Project Unify started at OBHS in the 2011-12 school year when the students wanted to start a club for the special needs population. Old Bridge partnered with Special Olympics on the Project Unify movement.
“Members of Project Unify are OBHSl students with and without disabilities,” Lewicki said. “Athletes partner with peers to develop social, physical and sports skills.”
Senior Ben Carroll joined Project Unify his sophomore year when a friend asked him to check out the club.
“Everybody loves everybody; it’s amazing,” he said. “There is no judgment at all.”
Another senior, Tara Little, said the students teach their peers what to be aware of and to not judge others.
“Everyone can be unified; it doesn’t matter what disability you have, but the abilities you do have,” she said.