Downers Grove South High School students Esther Crandell and Andrea Ramirez were selected to join the Youth Activation Committee of the Special Olympics of Illinois (SOILL). Crandell, a junior, and Ramirez, a senior, will work with students across the state to discuss ways to build a unified world, starting in their own schools. The two will also present and help facilitate sessions during the SOILL’s state conference, which will take place in November in Peoria. The focus of the conference is to promote and build inclusion and respect.
“Working with the students who have special needs and helping to create a better school environment for them makes me happy,” says Crandell. She been involved with Special Olympics basketball events, has attended other Special Olympics conferences and has applied for various special education grants. This year, she serves as a student aide and also is student teaching at O’Neill Middle School in Downers Grove through the “Intro to Teaching” class at DGS.
At the conference, the pair will present to over 500 high school and middle school students about the “Respect Campaign” they initiated last year at DGS. They will share how other students can replicate the program at their schools.
“Esther and Andrea have worked closely together in order to bring messages of respect to everyone at DGS,” says Brett Wolf, a physical therapist for District 99 and sponsor. “We are so proud of their hard work and that they will represent our school at this important state conference.”
“This is a wonderful leadership opportunity for both girls,” says Sydney Oswald, a physical therapist for the district who also sponsors the conference efforts. “They are leading by example of their efforts and close friendship, and inspire all of us at DGS every day.”
“My hope is that our student body becomes more unified and welcoming of everyone, not just because it’s a certain club, but because it’s just how we do things,” says Crandell.
For more information about SOILL, please visit www.soill.org.