Circle of Friends Club Shines Light on Importance of Disability Awareness


Francisco Rogel

PIF Lissa Bordieri, Junior Kaden Jenkins, Junior Sevilla Tovar, Senior Sebastian Baluyot, Junior Allison Tur- ley, PIF Ben Medina, and Junior Oskar Franiak-Pietryga (left to right, clockwise) sharing a meal together.

Sevilla Tovar, Editor-In-Chief

   March is the month associated with all things green: Saint Patrick’s Day, Shamrock shakes, and spring. Unbeknownst to many, March is additionally a nationally recognized month, specifically National Disabilities Awareness Month. One UC High club seeks to bring this knowledge to the campus community.

National Disabilities Awareness Month was first officially recognized 36 years ago under former US President Ronald Reagan. According to Connecticut’s official state website, “The proclamation called for people to provide understanding, encouragement and opportunities to help persons with disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives” (

As a result of this recognition, and with the help of new technological advances, the hope is that more and more people with disabilities are given a fair shot at a long, fruitful life. An article by Special Needs Alliance detailed, “The expectations of young people with developmental disabilities and their parents began to shift. Productive, self-directed lives within the community increasingly became the goal, and (increasingly) an obtainable goal” ( Ever since then, people with disabilities have gained support and access to resources on an exponential level.

   UC High’s Circle of Friends club, led by Juniors Sevilla Tovar and Allison Turley, strives for inclusion across all aspects of life and understanding of differences. The club provides a stress-free environment to make new friends. Paraeducator Independence Facilitator Rebecca Hazer said, “I’m an aide that works with students who need a little extra help, and I think it’s great that March is Disability Awareness Month.” She is a dedicated member of the Circle of Friends club, and believes it’s crucial to integrate students of all ability levels.

Hazer said, “Our kids really enjoy being with kids of their age, their peers, and vice versa. It’s a win- win situation. Students are able to meet, spend quality time, and create meaningful relationships with people who they would’ve never met otherwise.” Co-President Junior Allison Turley cherishes being a member of the club, and hopes that the group only grows. She said, “I wish more people knew about the club and were able to come to meetings and play games. Right now our club is very small, and I hope next year brings many new faces.” Currently, meetings are held every Wednesday during lunch in room 211.

   Students, particularly those in moderate to severe special education classes, are appreciative of the opportunities that UC High gives them. Hazer said, “I love my job, I love it when my kids are having fun, laughing, and you can see their achievements and improvements. I’ve had quite a few former students approach me and thank me for all we’ve done here at UC for them.” Alumna Anika Tovar is extremely grateful for her time at the Circle of Friends Club. She explained, “I first joined the group called Circle of Friends in sixth grade, and I stayed in the club the rest of middle school and high school. I met so many new people and became friends with a bunch of people who aren’t in Special Ed thanks to the club. Circle of Friends is really important to me because it brings together people who all just want to have a fun time.”

   While the nationally recognized Disability Awareness month is only a month long, many are still happy that it exists because of what it signifies. Tovar said, “I’m proud of having Down syndrome. March being Disability Awareness Month gives support and help to a lot of people who need it, and brings awareness to individuals that don’t show their disability. Everybody has differences, and that’s something we should embrace.”