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Respect rally draws 300 to Hilhi

Pair of seniors join Special Olympics Oregon to focus on respect, acceptance


Roughly 300 people turned out Saturday at Hillsboro High School to show a little “Respect.”

Aretha Franklin wasn’t singing, but Cam Lasley, a local rapper with Down syndrome, was on hand to entertain the crowd.

Hillsboro High School seniors Tyrell Woodland and Maria Ochoa organized the rally, in collaboration with Special Olympics Oregon’s Respect Campaign, to promote awareness and acceptance of students with intellectual disabilities.

In addition, the rally was a kickoff — no pun intended — for the start of the Unified Sports Soccer High School League through Special Olympics Oregon, a league comprised of students with and without intellectual disabilities. This is the first Unified Sports high school league created by Special Olympics Oregon in which athletes represent their schools.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Caitlynn Cantrell, youth leader from McMinnville High School, and Stanley Stimson, youth leader at Rainier High School, dance Gangnam style at the Hillsboro High School youth Respect Rally last weekend. The two were telling the story of their recent trip to South Korea.

The league consists of eight teams, including Hilhi, Glencoe, Liberty, Forest Grove and four others from the Portland metro area.

“We wanted to get people involved in an area that isn’t recognized enough at our school,” Woodland said. “Disabled kids are just the same as other kids.”

Ochoa and Woodland are members of the school’s leadership team. It’s been a focus of the team this year to promote inclusion of fellow students with disabilities at school events.

“Tyrell and Maria are both committed to promoting inclusion at Hillsboro High School,” said Alix Wasteney, Project Unify coordinator for Special Olympics Oregon.

“They believe that every student should be accepted and treated with respect no matter what their differences. They wanted to organize the rally to educate their student body and other school communities about the importance of creating an inclusive school environment where every student feels accepted.”

The day started with a group rally, followed by entertainment, including Hilhi’s breakdancers, and finished with a round robin soccer tournament.

“Having such a diverse school is eye-opening to us,” Woodland said. “Through the youth rally we hope to promote the Respect Campaign and inspire everyone to take our message back to their schools and create positive change.”

Woodland said he was pleased with the turnout at the rally.

To learn more, visit projectunify.org.




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