6th Grade Assembly Encourages Differently-Abled Awareness

29 04 2016

BHS students Josh Carroll and Marissa Marciano share their experiences with Marshall Simonds’ 6th Graders. Josh’s younger brother Caiden 

This afternoon, Marshall Simonds’ 6th Graders attended an assembly on disability awareness. Burlington residents who were differently abled as well as some of their family members spoke to our students about their everyday challenges and stories. Among those who spoke at this assembly were Maura Mazzocca who is legally blind due to complications from diabetes, Joe Stordy who is paralyzed on his left side,  MJ Fietze, who uses a hand cycle due to multiple sclerosis, and Kenny Tigges, a quadriplegic man who attended Burlington Publics Schools as a child and currently has children attending our schools.

Each speaker explained how they came to be differently abled,  how it affects them in their everyday lives  and how they use assistive technology to cope with their respective disabilities. They also took the time to explain to our students how dated terms such as “handicapped” and “retarded” are offensive and to refrain from using them to describe those that are differently abled.

Also speaking at this assembly were BHS junior Joshua Carroll and BHS senior Marissa Marciano. Joshua brought along his brother, Caiden, who has Angelman Syndrome, a neuro-genetic disorder which affects speech, balance and development. Four years ago, Joshua created the R-Word Video while a student at Marshall Simonds – a video that stresses the harmful effect of derogatory language and dated terminology.


MSMS 6th Grader Courtney D volunteered to demonstrate how one with a visual impairment uses a cane to navigate their surroundings . 

Marissa is currently an intern at the LABBB Collaborative at Francis Wyman Elementary School, which helps differently abled students “develop skills and independence in the areas of communication, socialization, cognition, motor development, and activities of daily living”. Both Josh and Marissa shared their experiences and screened Josh’s R-Word video, which can be viewed below. The assembly concluded with a Q&A session from the 6th Graders in attendance.

We’d like to thank Maura, Joe, MJ, Kenny, Joshua, Caiden, and Marissa for taking the time to share their stories and experiences with our students!




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