First inclusion week held at Rhinelander High School
Students and school staff in Rhinelander are setting out to make sure everyone feels valued, as the district's high school is hosting "Inclusion Week" for the first time this week.
This is being done in an effort to raise awareness for various disabilities people can have and create sensitivity around those topics.
"I'd heard about Inclusion Week through Special Olympics of Wisconsin; they host their week in March, but in March, I wasn't ready to launch it," said Nina Hazelton, a special education teacher at Rhinelander High School.
They created a theme around each day, ranging from Autism Awareness Day on Monday to Mental Health Awareness Day on Thursday, with each day having a corresponding color theme that students were encouraged to dress up in.
Bracelets and keychains made by teachers and students have also been sold in lunch periods all week, with proceeds going toward the Ronald McDonald House in Marshfield and the Frederick Place in Rhinelander.
Staff say the turnout has been well-received, and it's serving as a reflection of the school's current culture.
"We'll be walking down the hallway and you'll just hear people [say], 'Drake, high five!' or [give a] fist bump," Hazelton said.
Hazelton also serves as the regional manager for the Special Olympics of Wisconsin, leading athletes of a variety of ages in activities like bowling.
She says between the raised awareness gained by Inclusion Week and the Special Olympics involvement in the community, Rhinelander can become an even better place to be.
"It just makes me feel like there's hope that eventually people won't be bullied and made fun of for whatever disability they have, whether it be an invisible disability, a physical or a mental [disability]," Hazelton said.
She says they are already coming up with ways they can make Inclusion Week bigger for next school year.