ARNOLD’S COVE, N.L.— A group of students at Tricentia Academy want to ensure everyone feels welcome.
The inclusion committee had been busy over the last couple of weeks planning a special Diversity Awareness Week, which ran from May 28-June 1.
Each day, students celebrated a different diversity— whether it be odd socks for Down Syndrome Day, inside out clothes for autism awareness, or rainbow colors for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) awareness.
The committee kicked off the week by laying twin rainbow sidewalks near the school’s front entrance on Friday, May 25.
“In the media recently it’s been a controversy, and we thought we could do it at our school to show our inclusion to all the different diversities in people’s life,” said Mitchell White, referring to the recent controversy when the Springdale Town Council rejected a proposition from Indian River High School ‘s Gender-Sexuality Alliance to paint a rainbow crosswalk near the school.
“A visual makes students feel that they are safer, and more accepted, and more a part of the school,” said guidance counsellor Sandi Baker, who formed the inclusion committee roughly five years ago to acknowledge diversity, individual differences and the importance of acceptance.
Students say talking about issues, such as acceptance of different diversities, is the key to change.
“People need to be open to talk about things,” said student and committee member Theresa Caul. “People have to realize that this is a part of who people are; people kept it away for so long and its destroyed families and it’s destroyed people’s live, because they kept it all inside.
“If you can come out and talk about it, it can change someone’s mindset completely.”
It cost about $68 to paint the sidewalk — with plenty of paint left over for next time.
“It demonstrates support for diversity within the school,” said principal Russ Peddle of the rainbow sidewalk. “We’re all different, we’re all unique, and we all have special interest and special abilities. This is a display of acceptance.”
The end of the special week on June 1 also dovetailed into the beginning of international Pride Month, with LGBTQ events being planned across the globe.