Disney Week 2019 promotes inclusivity in students

Claire A
Disney inspired memes were posted around the school.
Claire Armstrong
A Disney inspired dress created by students was on display in the library.

Today’s society is reliant on reading and literacy, especially in schools, so it is more important than ever to acknowledge learning disabilities like dyslexia, ADHD, and less common ones that affect reading and writing.
Dyslexia is a fairly common reading disability, according to dyslexicadvantage.org, but it is still a relatively new term. Despite that, teachers and students around the school organized a week-long series of events to bring awareness to dyslexia, and supposed dyslexic Walt Disney is the perfect figurehead.
“I’ve always loved Disney,” said Disney Week organizer Allison Barker. “Walt Disney especially. He is my favorite entrepreneur that refused to quit, even when his company was going under.”
This determination is exactly what Barker wants to emphasize with Disney Week.
“Students with dyslexia that struggle in high school have much higher dropout rates, but I know the dyslexic students here can do it,” Barker said.
Nearly one in six students have dyslexia according to dyslexicadvantage.org, North certainly has many dyslexic students that may not know the resources they can use in school and instead just think they are not smart enough to understand.
“Dyslexia is not really talked about. A lot of people just think you’re too stupid, since they don’t get it,” said a dyslexic student involved with Disney Week.
“Kids with dyslexia aren’t stupid,” Barker added. “Reading isn’t something the brain knows; we have to learn it as we grow up. Normally when someone reads, one hemisphere of the brain is active. For people with dyslexia, a different part of the brain is active, so they need to use different paths in the brain to read effectively.”
As for accomodations, there are many options for students with any learning disability, not just dyslexia.
“Some students have extra time on reading and writing tests. Depending on how bad their dyslexia is, students can have someone reading to them or someone writing for them. Again, this doesn’t mean the students are less smart than anyone else,” Barker said.
This is Disney Week’s second year, and Barker has some new ideas after the first trial run. The biggest obstacle the event faces is getting the word out.
“Last year, people didn’t really know what was going on. The students remember the memes on all the lockers, and a few participated in the dress-up days and the dyslexia simulation we had in the lunchroom, but we want to do more,” Barker explained. “So this year we’re collaborating with other people around the school. In the library there will be a photo booth with different Disney themes. There will be a movie night. One day we will have some Disney-themed games, and of course we’re keeping the Disney memes from last year.”