Ian Walden was named the Arizona Recycling Coalition's Recycling Representative of the year on October 17th, 2013 at the annual AZRC Conference. He, along with 2 of his students, an aide, an interpreter, our Principal and other club sponsor, Allison Walden, accepted the award.Here is what we wrote about his Special Education, Community Skills, students helping with our recycling program:
At first glance our recycling program appears just like any other. Students with developmental disabilities help to take recyclables from small bins to a bigger bin; but in reality this is monumental. Each student’s journey to develop the skills for recycling is amazing. The student with Autism unlocking the bin has been practicing holding a key between his fingers for months. The young lady pushing the recycling cart has practiced over and over again to get the cart through doorways because she is blind in one eye. The student using sign language to tell me that the bin next to the cafeteria needs to be emptied is the same student that, only three years ago, had no concept of language. His behavior and intellectual disabilities hindered his acquisition of ASL (American Sign Language) but look at him now! Recycling has given each of these students the opportunity to learn vocational skills that will make them marketable for jobs, and help them be a part of their community, after high school.
Recycling has also helped my students find their place on campus. They may not have the dexterity to play an instrument in the band or score a touchdown on the field; but they are consistent and motivated in everything they set their mind to. The recycle bins are always full and someone needs to take care of them. My students supplement the recycling club (that has dwindling interest and only meets twice a week, when students show up) and get the job done for everyone. They keep the program running by recycling almost every day. Each time they go out they overcome disabilities, tolerate the heat, and finish the job. They take pride in knowing that they are a part of it all, and it gives them an opportunity to interact with the other students on campus.
Wheelchairs, deafness, Autism, intellectual disabilities, and traumatic brain injury are always with them; but it is their school, their community and their world. It is just a part of their responsibility, as it is anyone else’s, and nothing is going to stand in their way! We are proud to be a part of South Mountain’s Recycling Program!