Autistic students get the real 'high school experience' with Project Unify

Published: Feb. 26, 2016 at 9:27 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A group of students at West Mecklenburg High School are working to make sure their peers with autism aren't left out of the high school experience. It's called Project Unify.

The program works to educate other students about autism and other special needs. It's something these kids are very passionate about.

"We want them to be as involved in the school as possible and try to not treat them any differently than any other student at this school," said senior and Project Unify student volunteer Cameron Odom.

Students with autism and other developmental disorders take part in a daily class where they are no different - in fact, they're celebrated in front of other students.

Kishawn Hall has autism. He loves to sing and he loves an audience. Friday he got to have both in front of a classroom full of his peers. His smile went from cheek to cheek.

The Project Unify group works to ensure that the special needs students who are a part of the program get to experience high school like any other child would.

Rachel Lawing, who also volunteers with the program, led a rally on Friday to encourage kids not to use the "R" word.

"It hurts because it's offensive and derogatory," Rachel told her schoolmates.

Students say it's not about making these kids feel special, it's about making them feel just like everybody else.

"They're just not the people you see walking down the hallway with a disability. They have a story, they have a life, they're not anyone different," Cameron said.

Project Unify is changing lives at West Meck, and doing just what its name implies.

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