When tragedy struck in Charlottesville, South Carolina last August, the Prairie Land School Division decided to help out in their own way. The school division is promoting inclusivity and reaching out to marginalized or excluded members of society.

As part of this goal, PLSD is running a contest for students in the division. Students are asked to design and implement a project that promotes inclusivity and challenges the norms of society.

In Morrin on Oct. 12, a group of three students organized an event called Bocce Ball for All. Alia Nielsen, Serena Michie and Jack Adams gathered 112 students from the area, including 50 from Morrin and Delia, to play in a bocce ball tournament. To incorporate inclusivity, the group contacted Shanna Kurylo at Unified Sports, a group which organizes tournaments which place people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team.

"They had heard about the Unified Sports Program and they let me know that they were interested in running a very inclusive event such as this and wanted to know if there was anything I could do to help, anything I could offer or just come out and take it in," explained Kurylo. "So, they've done a fantastic job of organizing all of this and I'm very excited to be here and see what they have done."

Morrin School Principal Don Yavis was equally impressed with the group, saying his contribution was limited, involving only a few tips to make the organization process easier for the students.

"I hope that they realize that one person or two people or three people can make a big difference in the world," said Yavis. "I think that they've proven that over and over again today when I've been walking around seeing the smiling faces on all these kids."

First place in the contest is the chance to participate in a two-week cultural immersion program at the Maplewood International School in Abu Dhabi. Nielsen said the trip would be great but this project is about more than just winning.

"I think we knew our project was really a success when it stopped being about winning the trip. Obviously, that would be a great thing to do, but we're really passionate about this and how it's turning out."

Students have until Oct. 23 to present a short video presentation about their project to PLSD. Finalists will be asked to give an in-person, 15-minute presentation to the school division the first week of November, and a winner will be selected shortly thereafter. The two-week exchange takes place from Nov. 11-25, 2017.

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