At Cary High School, Club Unify brings students of different abilities together to work on various projects.
Lucas Welch has a younger brother with low-functioning autism. He first attended a Club Unify meeting two years ago, figuring that he already spends time with someone who has a disability at home. Before his freshman year was concluded, he found that he was hanging out nearly every day in special education classrooms.
“People come in with their guard up, but they see how welcoming it is, and it’s like, ‘Oh, well this is different,’ ” said Welch, now a junior. “It slowly becomes a second home to them.”
Faculty sponsor Jenice Bass says that Cary High School is very open to offering special needs students opportunities to perform with drama and music classes and participate in athletics and school spirit activities.
Recently, students worked together on the club’s school homecoming float. The float theme was from the club’s favorite movie, “The Lion King.” Bass said that the club collaboration drew attention to the way the school integrates special needs students in with the rest of the student body.
“I tell them that they’re just like they are,” Bass said. “They like the same music, they like the same dance steps. They’re typical teenagers, but with a different kind of mind. They can do the same things anyone else in the school can do, but they just learn them in a different way.”