Breaking stereotypes: Campbell student receives GCF grant

Published 10:28 am Friday, April 12, 2019

Allee Mullins, a seventh-grade student at Campbell Junior High, is spearheading a project aimed at breaking stereotypes of students with disabilities.

Mullins developed a program for students in George Rogers Clark High School’s Multiple Severe Disabilities (MSD) class to work in the RDC soccer game concessions stand during home games this spring.

Mullins said the students have already begun running concessions.

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“I saw that many people with severe disabilities have the stereotype to be not as able as someone who had the position at the top of their class,” Mullins said. “I decided if the community interacted with them more, they could see how these students were.”

A What’s Your Ambition?! grant from The Greater Clark Foundation (GCF) will support the project.

“My hope is that we can show the community that people with disabilities can be active members of our community,” Mullins said in the release. “A lot of people have the opposite perception; we want to show them that these students have great potential and can contribute to our community.”

Two students will work at each of the five home games along with a volunteer.

Mullins, who is also a volleyball player at RDC and GRC, created this program through a class project in her Innovation Lab, which John Chaney, a technology education teacher at RDC, leads. Chaney challenged the students to create a solution to help the community.

“We were challenged to create a solution in the community that could benefit others,” Mullins said.

Her group recognized the divide between stereotypes of MSD students and reality and decided having the students work at soccer games was a way to begin challenging those negative perceptions.

Mullins said Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, a Wilmington, North Carolina, coffee shop changing the way the public sees people with disabilities, inspired her project.

“We saw what they were doing in their communities and how it was impacting others,” Mullins said. “We wanted to bring it to Winchester.”

Mullins started working on the project in September 2018 and began the grant application process in November 2018. Mullins said the grant application process was daunting, but she was grateful for the communication and guidance from Jen Algire, president and CEO of GCF.

“It took a lot of edits and more communication with [Algire] to finally be able to submit the grant,” Mullins said.

The grant, which is for about $3,000, will help pay the concession employees and potentially uniforms and other costs.

Algire said in a press release it was impressive to see a young student be involved in problem-solving and innovating to make the community better for all.

“This project will create a ripple effect as people open their minds and see students of all abilities in a new light,” Algire said in the release. “It’s another grassroots effort that helps create a more fair and equitable community.”

RDC Principal Dustin Howard and RDC Athletic Director Ken Howard are also supporting Mullins’ project.

Mullins said she’d like to see the project continue and have students work more sports games.

“I’ve only been to one of the two games, but I saw that many people, it brought a smile to their face when they shook [the student’s] hand or talked to them,” she said.

Throughout the process, Mullins said she’d learned a lot about grants, trust and leadership.

“It means a lot to be able to do something like this,” Mullins said. “I’m the first [seventh-grader] to receive a grant from The Greater Clark Foundation. So it means a lot having that title along with everyone calling my parents and telling them how proud they are of me and what I’ve done.”

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0015.

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