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Monarch, Epiphany students raise awareness about Developmental Disabilities, pledge to stop the use of the R-word

During Developmental Disabilities Awareness month in March, Monarch and The Epiphany School of Global Studies in New Bern, partnered to host a special chapel dedication service to raise awareness about developmental disabilities.

epiphany2The school’s club, “Footprints for a Change,” organized the chapel program and asked Laura Shumate, a participant of Monarch’s Day program at Health Drive, to speak to students about her life and interests. After her speech Shumate received flowers and lots of hugs from the students.

Approximately 360 students from the Trent Road Campus, ranging from grades 6th through 12th, along with parents and the founders of the school, Nicholas and Kathy Sparks, were in attendance. Monarch representatives, staff and Bryan Merritt, a person we support, also came to hear Shumate speak.

Each of the students from the club made a brief presentation during chapel and shared details about their upcoming “Footprints for a Change” 5K/1 mile walk/run on Sept. 20 at River Bend in New Bern. The funds raised from this year’s race will go towards creating a sensory room for participants at Monarch’s Health Drive, and new playground equipment for RHA Howell, an organization that provides residential services for those living with disabilities.

epiphany chapelDuring the service the students also discussed the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign, which encourages people to stop the use of the R-word. After the program, students signed a banner pledging their commitment to ban the word. The banner laden with signatures is now on display at the school.

Savannah Sparks, a student and member of the Footprints for a Change club, said DD Awareness is an important issue for her and her fellow club members and she hopes through the chapel service people learned to stop using the R-word.

“There are many people in this world who are different from our standards of ‘normal,’ and we want to end the judgment and help people learn more about their situations,” she said.

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