High school and middle school students from the Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center — a K-12 school in Albertson serving students with severe physical disabilities — participated in the national school walkout on March 14 in response to the shooting that claimed the lives of 17 students and staff in Parkland, Florida.
At 10 a.m., a crowd of students solemnly gathered outside, displayed posters that honored the victims, and sat in silence. The students joined thousands of others across the country in walking out of class for 17 minutes in an effort to reflect on the tragedy and encourage lawmakers to consider new approaches to school safety.
For Henry Viscardi School students, the walkout was an opportunity to spread another important message — as citizens of the world, young people with disabilities have the power to voice opinions on national social issues and influence change alongside their peers.
“Things need to change,” Glorianna Jackson, one of three high schoolers who organized the walkout, said. “We need to make schools safer, we need to make the community safer. It’s important to have our voices be heard. Students can create change if we all come together to help the community.”
The school’s administration fully supported the students in creating a safe, structured way to demonstrate their support and concern about school safety and finding meaningful solutions to prevent future incidents.
“Every day we empower our students and encourage them to advocate for themselves and others,” said Angelo Zegarelli, Head of School at the Henry Viscardi School. “We’re giving them the skills and opportunities to be active members of their communities and are proud that they are knowledgeable and aware of what is happening locally, nationally, and globally and the role they themselves can play in influencing change.”
The Henry Viscardi School provides a traditional school environment for students with disabilities who would otherwise need to receive instruction at home or in a hospital setting. Many students use power wheelchairs and require medical care throughout the day.
The Viscardi students are also planning a fundraiser for the Parkland victims’ families in April.