Chamisa Elementary School Student Leader Robyn Hollis passes out bracelets to students and adults gathered in Chamisa’s Gymnasium for a leadership rally Monday spotlighting awareness that all students have amazing potential. Photo by Karyl Ann Armbruster
By Karyl Ann Armbruster
Living Skills teacher Jennifer Keiltyka at Chamisa was given a grant from the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation to eradicate the “R” word.
With the help of the 6th grade leadership group composed of Sean Collins, Priyanka Velappan, Jenny Paige, Colin Hehlen, Youssef Amin and Robyn Hollis, the group spearheaded the movement for disability awareness.
As the leader, Robyn sought to stamp our the “R” word (retarded) from everyone’s vocabulary.
Shelby, Robyn’s older sister has Down’s Syndrome. It is easy to classify Shelby.
Robyn said she is an athlete who is happy getting a bronze metal because she has so many gold and silver ones, a smart dresser and someone who loves to dance.
Local parent Rebecca Hollis explained to the school that when a person says, “Oh, that is so retarded,” that person is talking about her child.
Yet a person with an intellectual challenge could be called an artist, a sister, a human being, a friend, but never retarded. It is a hateful and offensive word.
Chamisa Principal Debbie Smith reiterated the message to the children and staff.
“We want you to eliminate the word with your friends. It is a stereotype of others,” she said.
A short movie was shown at Monday’s event and the message was to cherish differences, be unique, words can be rude, hurtful and make us cry.
“Words can be degrading and hurt my friends,” a young lady said.
Make the change: “Spread the word to end the word.”
Chamisa Student Leaders Sean Collins, Priyanka Velappan, Jenny paige, Parent Rebecca Hollis, Colin Hehlen, Youssef Amin and Robyn Hollis during a leadership assembly Monday in the school gym. Photo by Karyl Ann Armbruster
Leader teachers, parents and students include standing from left, Jennifer Kielteka, Rebecca Hollis, Colin Hehlen, Jenny Paige, Youssef Amin and Chamisa Principal Debbie Smith. Seated from left, Sean Collins, Robyn Holles, Priyanka Velappan and Shelby Holles. Photo by Karyl Ann Armbruster
Chamisa students are taught that all kids can be awesome. Photo by Karyl Ann Armbruster