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Students Advocate for People with Special Needs

screenshot of zoom call Kentridge High School students Ja’Raya McCrary and Emma Koenigs represented Kent School District and shared their stories with state lawmakers to advocate for people with special needs in February. The students and Kentridge Special Education Teacher Lindsey Cornish presented virtually to elected officials and their staffers, including the offices of Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Representatives Dan Newhouse and Adam Smith.

The students shared how federal education funding for programs that support people with special needs, like the Special Olympics, are important to inclusive education students like them.

Ja’Raya shared how Kentridge’s Unified Club, one of four in the state, helped her find her community.

“It really feels like home,” she told them. “I love the fun events like pack the gym, but also how being part of something makes me feel included.” 

Cornish, who is also the advisor for Kentridge’s Unified Club, said the club gives general education and inclusive education students a unique opportunity to socialize, play fun games, and have a space where everyone feels included. She said she was very proud of both students for their presentations. 

“Ja’Raya and Emma did an amazing job and they were great leaders,” Cornish said. “You could tell the officials also really cared about what they were saying. It was great to see!”

Emma shared that the Unified club has “helped me feel more comfortable, you can really be your authentic self and feel accepted.”