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Recently, I attended a presentation done by the W.T. Woodson DECA officers. I was very astonished by what they accomplished with the youth project funding they received from Project UNIFY.  I witnessed firsthand how Project UNIFY works on the grass root level thanks to W.T. Woodson DECA. The experience I had that night at Woodson was one that I will not forget. W.T. Woodson is located in Fairfax, Virginia. Woodson was also the first school in Northern Virginia to become involved in Project UNIFY. Woodson DECA is one of the great examples of youth activation and leadership we can all learn from. Here’s what DECA leaders have to say about their Spread the Word to End the Word Project.

This year, Special Olympics and W.T. Woodson DECA have joined forces.  DECA is an organization of High School marketing students that prepare business and marketing plans for outstanding organizations to present in state and nation wide competitions.  Woodson DECA Officers Virginia Holman, Kari Moye, and Tommy Troyano took on this challenge and decided to work with the Special Olympics.  They were able to receive a Project UNIFY grant for $1,200 which was used during their Special Olympics awareness night at Woodson Basketball game.  This money was used to purchase a “Spread the Word to End the Word” banner along with 100+ Project UNIFY T-Shirts to promote this event.  During half time, Special Olympics athletes played with Woodson DECA students in a Project UNIFY basketball game in front of over 200 fans!  This group of young leaders has been able to raise awareness, promote Special Olympics projects to high school students, and change the mindsets of every student at Woodson High School about this phenomenal organization.

“This small amount of money was able to make a huge difference in our community by creating a sense of unity among everyone wearing the shirts to support the game.  Outside the gym, we were able to set up tables full of information about upcoming local Special Olympics events while promoting their “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign which focuses attention on ending the use of the word “retard” as a derogatory term.  Woodson students were excited to sign the “R-Word” pledge knowing that their signature could have such a positive influence on their community.  Our main event was during halftime as our T-shirts helped create an overwhelming sense of unity among all of the students wearing our red T-shirts which also created a sea of red support for all of the Special Olympics athletes.  After a short speech by global messenger Frank Stephens, we organized a Project UNIFY basketball game where 5 Woodson students playing basketball alongside 5 Special Olympics athletes.”

Congratulations W.T. Woodson DEAC on a job well done! :)

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