County executive kicks off Abilities Awareness Day

Margaret Buerkle Middle School students and staff welcomed County Executive Charlie Dooley Wednesday to kick off the schools Abilities Awareness Day. The events educational workshops and activities increased students awareness and compassion for children and adults with varying abilities.

Margaret Buerkle Middle School students and staff welcomed County Executive Charlie Dooley Wednesday to kick off the school’s Abilities Awareness Day. The event’s educational workshops and activities increased students’ awareness and compassion for children and adults with varying abilities.

Margaret Buerkle Middle School students and staff welcomed a special guest Wednesday to kick off the school’s Abilities Awareness Day.

County Executive Charlie Dooley launched the day’s educational workshops and activities, which increased students’ awareness and compassion for children and adults with varying abilities.

“All of us are different in some way,” Dooley stated in a Mehlville School District news release. “Just because I am different does not mean I cannot be values … When we find common ground with one another, we find things to value. The idea is recognizing that everyone has something to share.”

The theme of the day at MBMS was Step Into My Shoes,” or SIMS. For seven weeks beginning on Oct. 3, MBMS students have been learning about bullying, acceptance and helping others — an effort funded by a $5,000 grant awarded to the school’s Student Council by the Special Olympics of Missouri’s Project UNIFY. Each week, students participate in a set of activities and discussions based on five main themes: value, kindness, respect, responsibility and service.

The Abilities Awareness Day provided students with an in-depth look at some of the talents possessed by individuals with varying abilities and how these children and adults have overcome challenges to achieve success. Students also learned about different disabilities through presentations from several local organizations including the St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Paraquad, American Diabetes Association in Missouri, and Missouri Families for Effective Autism Treatment.

Following the presentations, the MBMS students identified what they had learned about the organizations and individuals with different abilities. Both students and staff found the Abilities Awareness Day to be educational and worthwhile, according to the feedback received by Student Council co-advisor Cathy Helfrich.

MBMS earned the SIMS grant from the Special Olympics of Missouri’s Project UNIFY through a grant proposal written during the 2010-2011 school year by current eighth-grader Samantha Inman and seventh-grader Rhiannon Creighton, both Student Council members. For more information about the SIMS grant and Project UNIFY, visit

.