We all grew up with our fair share of prejudice, especially at high school.
Kids just want to fit in, and it mostly comes down to a fear of acceptance. So when someone looks, sounds or behaves out of the “norm”, they’re immediately singled out… for the wrong reasons.
In the US, the stats say it all: one out of every five students report being bullied at school.
Bullying aside, you might still know how it felt to be sniggered at, misunderstood, or simply ignored by your peers. There are different ways to exclude people without outright bullying them.
If only kids would learn that through their own actions, they’re setting unattainable standards for “acceptable” behavior as a teenager. People are hesitant to use their voices and stand out for fear of garnering the wrong sort of attention.
But it’s certainly not all doom and gloom, as this story proves.
Footballers at Emmaus High School in Pennsylvania might be intimidating on the pitch, but they’re not your usual jocks during school time.
Head football coach Harold Fairclough is the reason for the boys’ winning record on the pitch – but it was his new community service requirement that had people talking.
Harold wanted his players to have a “positive impact, not just on the football field.”
A couple of months into the football season, Harold was presented with an opportunity: a special Olympics event.
The coach wanted his players to get involved, so he arranged for them to set up a workshop for the competitors.
The workshop had a shaky start, but it was soon a big success.
Blake Reed, a quarterback on the team, said to 69 News:
“To watch them pick it up and struggle with some things, and we taught them, and to watch them learn, it was great. Once we got over that initial hump, it was okay. It was fine, like, we can do this.”
As for coach Harold, he went home with a “big smile” on his face – and instantly started to think about what else his team could do in the name of community spirit.
What Harold decided on was a “lunch buddy program”, where every Friday, each player would buddy up with a classmate with special needs.
It’s something that could have been awkward, but both parties enjoyed the program immensely.
What started off as mandatory for the team soon became voluntary.
Some guys now sit with their partners every day, and their experience has encouraged some to pursue careers in special education.
Are things getting better on the prejudice front, then? It certainly seems so. Hopefully, this heartwarming news story has spread the message that it’s not “uncool” to be inclusive, and more kids will take note going forward.
Children aren’t the only ones to blame, either. Adults, too, have a lot to learn from this story.
Have you ever giggled behind somebody’s back at work or moved out of somebody’s way because you didn’t know what to think of them? If so, you’re playing into the prejudice that’s still a widespread issue across workplaces across the US.
Remember, kindness costs nothing. Being openly warm and friendly to everyone, and treating each person as your equal, will only ever introduce more positivity into your life.
You can watch a news report of this inspiring story below!
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