Everybody Counts 2019

Each year in March, an army of 130 volunteers help bring the Everybody Counts program to life in the classroom at St. Ignatius School, sharing hands-on activities that help students experience the challenges of living with a disability.

Everybody Counts is a national disability awareness program developed by Cincinnatian Nancy Kayes in 1981. It is designed to teach students about various disabilities and how children with these challenges cope with them. The goal is to build understanding, inclusion, and ease with one another’s differences.

With the help of many volunteers, the program has been running at St. Ignatius School from the first year that the Everybody Counts program began almost 40 years ago. The latest generation of volunteers has been led by Suzie Kleeman (12 years volunteering and five years as a coordinator), Donna Frazee (six years volunteering and four years as coordinator), and Julie Beck (nine years volunteering and one year as coordinator).

Over the course of their time at St. Ignatius School, students gain a basic understanding of visual impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive delays, motor / orthopedic impairments and learning disabilities. Says Principal Kevin Vance, “It is our hope this program will teach St. Ignatius students the worth of all people; that disabilities are not a barrier to friendship, and that people do not have to be defined by their disability.”

Everybody Counts is a model program at St. Ignatius School. Every year other schools contact St. Ignatius for help with starting or re-starting the program. Sylvia Hudepohl, 5th grade teacher, wrote her thesis on the program. Coordinator Julie Beck says, “We are constantly updating our curriculums to keep them current; for example adding autism [to the 5th grade curriculum on learning disabilities].”  

Adds Mrs. Beck, “I absolutely love this program!  I remember doing it in grade school at St. Jude in the ‘80s.  I think it is so important for our students to learn about different disabilities and issues that people have.  The program goes along with our monthly virtues and showing compassion to everyone.” 

Everybody Counts also demonstrates a commitment to two of the school’s core values:

Focusing on the Whole Child

This comprehensive approach provides an environment where each student’s unique abilities are both embraced and challenged, building the foundation for greater self-worth and life-long happiness.

Celebrating Diversity & Embracing all God’s Children:

Utilizing Christian law as our cornerstone and the Commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself,” St. Ignatius School embraces diverse talents, abilities, and backgrounds. Our commitment to this Commandment begins with the inclusion of all students.

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