As part of the Guardian Angels School’s CANabilities Program, McNicholas hosted the eighth grade class from GA, leading them through a morning of witness, reflection, and activities fostering kindness and compassion.
CANabilities is the progression of the program "Everybody Counts," switching the focus from disabilities to CANabilities, to highlighting the talents and skills of differently-abled people.
Senior Megan Kuhn shared stories about her life experiences as the sister of a person with autism and spoke about the importance of acceptance and treating others with compassion. Mrs. Renee Herndon, SAIL Department Chair, held up as role models successful members of society who have learning challeges, reminding students that learning differently has nothing to do with intelligence.
Sixteen McNicholas student leaders then helped the eighth graders unpack these talks, reflect on scripture passages relating to kindness, and break down stereotypes and myths. The GA eighth graders left with action steps on how to live with kindness.
The morning was planned by members of Hands Across Campus (HAC), the McNicholas inclusion and diversity student organization. Theology teacher and HAC moderator, Ms. Teresa Davis, said, “HAC is a space where McNicholas students can bring ideas of inclusion and learning to their peers, where they can stand in the gap for others and be intentional about including all.”
So far this school year, HAC has organized Hispanic Heritage Month and Black History Month activities, including a Jazz Band concert of Black artists; hosted speakers on autism awareness, caring for our earth, and the realities of immigration and refugees; held a cereal drive benefiting GA’s St. Vincent De Paul pantry which included instruction on food insecurities; provided free feminine hygiene products in all women's restrooms on campus; and hosted a booth from the Forest Hills Work Study Program. Recently, the Social Mission Core Team from Bellarmine Chapel at Xavier University awarded HAC a mini-grant to support these and other Hands Across Campus initiatives.
Ms. Davis said, “Dena Conover from GA reached out to HAC after hearing about our mission and activities. We are thankful that Mrs. Conover and GA trusted us to lead and guide the eighth graders in finding actions to live out kindness and we are so proud of our students for their compassionate leadership and passion for loving others.”