CULVER CITY — Culver City High School senior Chris Crawford may be the founder of the school’s Invisible Disability Club, but he is anything but invisible.
In fact, Crawford has become somewhat of a school district celebrity after he unveiled a special flag he designed to represent disabilities of all kinds — physical, educational and intellectual.
“This flag and symbolism are important to me as a new way to represent people with disabilities and recognize that not all people with disabilities have mobility issues or even visible disabilities,” Crawford said. “The background color is the national shade of blue adopted for disabilities. The two horizontal white stripes represent an equal sign and also are a nod to the tracks of a wheelchair, which is the current symbol for disability access.
“The infinity sign symbolizes both inclusion and the wide diversity of disabilities and people with disabilities. Additionally, it emphasizes equity in the inclusion of all people with the goal that there is no one way to be normal.”
In celebration of October as Disability Awareness Month, Crawford’s flag is being flown in multiple classrooms around the Culver City Unified School District this month. For the first time, the district also is holding individual events and projects at each school site thanks to the support of the District Special Education Committee and the PTA Special Ed committees at each school site.
“We are thrilled to celebrate Disability Awareness Month as it highlights the work we are doing to provide an inclusive education every day, for every student, in every classroom throughout the district,” said Diana Fannon, the district’s director of special education. “We have been fortunate to work closely with the Special Needs PTAs from each school site and the Special Needs District Advisory Committee to a shared vision for the future of our students with disabilities and are incredibly optimistic about what lies ahead.”
The Theatre by the Blind production was held Oct. 6 at Robert Frost Auditorium.
At El Rincon Elementary, there are displays of major contributors to society that have some form of disability. On Oct. 16, Michael Garafola, co-founder of Angel City Games, will make a presentation to the students. Angel City Games offers sports programming for kids, adults and veterans with physical disabilities or visual impairments.
The focus of El Marino’s Red Ribbon Week, in conjunction with Disability Awareness Month, is Healthy Minds/Healthy Bodies and kindness/inclusion. A committee is working on getting a sensory path installed.
Farragut Elementary School’s theme for the month is Everyone is Differently Abled. The school’s community is celebrating this dimension of diversity, learning about the history and experiences of people with a wide range of abilities and promoting positive attitudes and creating a culture of mutual respect, understanding and equal opportunities for all.
La Ballona Elementary is highlighting different role models with various disabilities in the school’s display case every week, complemented by special readings in the classroom. Infinite Flow, the wheelchair dance company, will present an assembly in early November.
Linwood E. Howe’s theme is “Recognize the Possibilities.” Principal Eva Carpenter will teach the Pledge of Allegiance in American Sign Language at a morning assembly. Lucy Meyer, an ambassador for Special Olympics and UNICEF, will speak to the fourth and fifth graders Oct. 21. She travels the world talking to children, dignitaries and world leaders about the importance of inclusion.
On Oct. 16 at 7 p.m., Culver City Middle School will host USC student-athlete Jake Olson, who is blind, but has served as long snapper on the football team. All district students and families are invited to hear his compelling story of academic and athletic success against all odds.
At Culver City High School, in addition to Crawford’s flag, the library will feature books on heroes with disabilities as well as a host of other activities with the students.
By the way, Crawford is not afraid to shed light on his invisible disability.
“I have autism,” he said. “But it doesn’t have me. I live with autism.”
Wave Staff Report