Unity Clubs are district-wide initiatives aiming to break down social barriers between individuals with disabilities and individuals without disabilities in the Richmond School District. Here at Richmond Secondary School, we are a club of youth in grades 8-12, who meet weekly at lunch to interact, bond, and get to know the diverse range of students from Studio 111. Richmond has embraced the concept of inclusive education where students with disabilities are supported within the general school curriculum, however socially students with disabilities may feel isolated amongst the general school population. With this project, it was our ultimate goal to promote a sense of belonging and enjoyment.

We began brainstorming for this project back in November 2022. Over the next 3 months, we had to plan for the food, activities and invited guests. Unity Club is all about promoting inclusion, so we strove to offer foods that are inclusive as well. We wanted to make sure that our students that eat gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and halal diets had options. We searched for recipes that met these dietary restrictions. One thing that posed a challenge was contacting all the grads. Once they graduate, the teachers did not have all the current contact information, so it was challenging in trying to reach out to all the students that we wanted to invite. However, this just proves how important it is to maintain a connection and reunite with the community!

The event was on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 from 9 to 11am. We greeted invited guests and started with a photo by our “Unity Reunion 2023” board. Guests enjoyed treats and activities such as painting on our mural and karaoke. It was so nice to see Studio students past and present spending time together and having a great time. The 2-hour event flew by, and many attendees shared that they were happy to see all their former teachers and friends. We took a group photo at the end, and seeing all the smiling faces made this event so rewarding for everyone involved.

Unity Club is about bringing students together, and one of the main components of this reunion party was bringing past grads back to school to catch up and enjoy games and treats together. Ultimately, this event broke through social barriers to connect students of diverse dis/abilities through intergenerational bonding. For Unity Club members, our common experience and connections with each other give us a sense of belonging in this community, and though some members have graduated, we want to show the power of unity, inclusion, and community as powers who can survive the test of time!

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