You Can’t Mask Respect

Leah Meyers, IV Leader Staff

This April, Illinois Valley Community College hosted the RESPECT Campaign 2021, along with Special Olympics and the TEACH club for future educators, to promote respect and inclusivity to all, especially those who have learning differences.

 The 2021 campaign theme, “You Can’t Mask Respect,” is not the only thing the pandemic has influenced. Like many other events, this year’s campaign had to be run differently due to COVID-19 and was focused more online rather than in person.

In the past, students from transition programs have come to the college to participate and there have been booths set up in the student life space where people could go and sign banners for the event and more. This year however, IVCC students, faculty, and staff came together to make a video for the campaign to show their support, posing with different signs making pledges of respect and to choose to include.

When asked about the challenges the pandemic presented with this year’s campaign and how it has compared to past years, Disability Coordinator Tina Hardy said, “It’s changed. You know the humanity of it has decreased a little bit, the personal interaction part of it but we still got a fairly decent response. We got about 30 people or so to respond and weigh in and I do feel like maybe our ability to show our product was greater because we were able to use Blackboard.”

Hardy also talked about her work with students and staff to create these campaigns.

She said, “What’s really nice is to see students get involved. Students who wouldn’t normally have had a chance to be involved in things—I really like to see students come up with ideas about ‘oh we can do this’, or they create the campaign where they’re the people standing at the table doing the outreach to other people. They’re the people wearing the t-shirts promoting the cause and I always think that’s empowering for students and I think other students will listen to students better than they do people like us.”

The video can be viewed by going onto IVCC’s Disability Services webpage on the school’s website, as well as the IVCC Academic Support Services YouTube channel.