A group of Western Wayne High School students attended the 2018-19 Youth Summit: Make Inclusion a Lifetime Trend, at Abington Heights School District in early April. The purpose of the summit was to bring students with and without disabilities together to learn about leadership and how to make a difference in their school communities. Nine local districts participated.

Sinaea Buford, Jared Loveland, Rebecca Boots, and Hayly Beckwith represented Western Wayne. These students were chosen because of their leadership and communication skills as well as their enthusiasm and ability to work well with others. The group are also athletes on Western Wayne’s Spring Unified Track and Field team. This team has a combination of students with and without intellectual disabilities. They are all teammates and have developed friendships.

At the summit, the students discussed ways to spread the word on inclusion and worked cooperatively on team building exercises. The students shared ideas and had fun making new friends.

One such student who made new friends at the event was Western Wayne sophomore Jared Loveland. Jared loves to socialize. This is his second season on Western Wayne’s Unified Track team and he feels so grateful for all of the amazing opportunities this experience has afforded him.

“My favorite part of the summit was bonding with everyone that I just met,” Jared explained. “I liked seeing everyone’s ideas in the different activities we did.”

Jared’s classmate freshman Becca Boots said her favorite team-building exercise was when groups of members from different districts had to work to build creations out of uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows.

“The activity allowed me to be creative and have fun,” Becca explained.

Becca has worked with special needs students in a variety of ways in her high school career and she said she learned so much more about inclusion from the summit that she will apply as she continues be a part of the Unified Track Team.

“Unified track is really fun,” Becca said. “I need to be patient because you never know what will happen next and that is one of the reasons why I like it so much.”