Michael Thibideau and other members of Lincoln Academy's Chapter of Project Unify speak to the Lincoln Academy community about the "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign. The students are holding a banner signed by several hundred LA students and staff.

Michael Thibideau and other members of Lincoln Academy’s Chapter of Project Unify speak to the Lincoln Academy community about the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. The students are holding a banner signed by several hundred LA students and staff.

by Lauren Hunt

During the last week of March, Lincoln Academy’s Project Unify Club pulled off a very successful “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. The organization is composed of students both with and without intellectual disabilities, who come together through activities to create a more unified and inclusive environment at Lincoln Academy. Over the course of several weeks, Unify members met after-school and planned a week’s worth of events to celebrate and promote the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign. Posters were made and placed all around the school. This campaign’s goal is to eliminate the word, “retard” from everyday communication. The goal was to encourage as many students and faculty as possible to pledge to end the word and create a symbol showing LA’s inclusive environment.

To cap off the campaign, members of Project Unify set up a table in the Dining Commons at lunch. Students and faculty filled a pledge banner with signatures. The Maine Special Olympics Office provided the Project Unify club with wristbands that said, “Spread the Word to End the Word,” and were given out to each who signed. Within a day and a half, the bracelets were gone! The support, however, didn’t end. Each and every day, more and more signatures appeared on the banner.

On Wednesday and Friday, Special Olympics held a Bake Sale in addition to the banner signing.  Over the course of the two days, the students raised more than one hundred dollars which will go directly to the Life Skills Classroom and help fund the Special Olympics team’s upcoming trip to the Summer Games at the University of Maine in June.

At the LA Friday Community Meeting on April 1, the club came together and, led by Michael Thibodeau, one of the team’s many star Special Olympics athletes, and a representative of Project Unify, delivered a speech to the whole school recapping the club’s success, and thanking the student body for their participation.

Student volunteer Natalie Whitney stated, “Project Unify and Special Olympics would like to thank the school community for helping us make this event a success! The banner is now another example of how amazing Lincoln Academy is. The money raised will help our Special Olympics team compete this summer! Thank you all so much.”

Lauren Hunt is a senior at Lincoln Academy and the LA Coordinator of Project Unify.