Coman Hill Elementary School Celebrates ‘Everyone Matters Day’
April 12, 2016
Coman Hill students were reminded that “Everyone Matters” with a week of activities designed to celebrate each child’s identity and reinforce the message that all children are important to the Byram Hills community.
Teachers read the book “I’m Going to Like Me” to all classes and then invited children to write a “# I am…” statement. First grader Jada Baskind proclaimed, “I am an artist” because she loves to draw. Classmate Scarlet Kaminsky stated, “I am helpful” because “I always help with the dishes.” And their fellow Coman Hill students expressed themselves in many other ways: I am musical. I am scientific. I am brave. I am fabulous.
A global message of inclusion, acceptance and empowerment, the Everyone Matters campaign was launched four years ago to promote “everyone’s right to be who they are” and discourage judgment of others. The movement, which is supported by a host of celebrities and public officials -- ranging from Paul McCartney to Archbishop Desmond Tutu to General Colin Powell -- has generated an ongoing social media campaign and various education programs. There is also an official Everyone Matters Day, celebrated on April 12.
Coman Hill Psychologist Jaime Karp and Special Education Teacher Laura Borneman, with the support of Principal Peggy McInerney and Assistant Principal MaryBeth Crupi, tailored the Everyone Matters program to young children and the school’s own needs.
“This campaign is all about acceptance and teaching kids to be proud of their own identity,” said Ms. Karp, adding that all children want to feel that they belong. “We want all our students to feel that they can be accepted and loved for who they are.”
Ms. Borneman noted that Coman Hill teachers were already affirming students’ special qualities and encouraging inclusion.
“This is a way to unify what we were all doing,” she said. Ms. Karp and Ms. Borneman planned activities designed to build self-confidence and foster community. With the help of parent volunteers at recess periods, children participated in a dance party designed to encourage self-expression and drew crayon portraits of themselves on large murals.
Ms. McInerney noted that Everyone Matters Week aligned well with the district's character education: “So much of our daily interactions with each other and our students embody kindness and acceptance of others,” she said. “This movement will help the youngest members of our district develop a strong understanding of how important it is to accept others and to be kind to others in this life."