Project Unify sparks a change
BY ELIZA ROSS ON OCTOBER 18, 2013
Smiling faces lit up the room on Saturday, October 12 as volunteers gathered to learn more about Project Unify at a meeting called “A Youth and Educators Summit.” Project Unify is an organization that helps unite the student body and community with the exceptional children around the county.
Senior Ashish Khanchandani, head of the Project Unify program at Rose, is involved with a group called the Greenville Youth Council, which is where he first heard of the project. Wanting to get the rest of the school involved, he soon researched and did the necessary planning to get Project Unify started at Rose.
“The reason I decided to start and head up this [project] is because I love the EC kids and I am really passionate about helping them out,” Khanchandani said.
About 40 people were bussed in from different schools on October 12 at 9:00 for an informative meeting on Project Unify, to learn more about what it is and what its goals are. Later in the afternoon the ECFL (Exceptional Children Football
League) athletes came to the Rose soccer field where everyone interacted by
playing flag football and getting to know each other.
“Saturday went great,” Khanchandani said. “I hope the event will help other students start the same organization at other schools.”
Rose is one of only two schools in Pitt County with Project Unify, but anyone in
eastern NC is welcome to join the organization. The only requirements for being
a part of Project Unify is for volunteers to donate their time and happy hearts.
“We will do this project a lot through DREAM Team and with athletes here, but we’re going to bring in everyone and do more with the whole student body,” new DREAM team advisor Nicole Leary said.
A perk for the school’s involvement in Project Unify is that the organization
donates a $1000 grant every year to each school involved, which goes toward
projects and events for the exceptional children. The only projects that are set
in stone include the Special Olympics and the sports equipment drive. However,
there are many more projects in the works. Retired math teacher and DREAM team advisor Marie Lewis, Leary and Khanchandani have met many mornings before school to brainstorm and plan out which events will take place and be successful this
“We’re really looking forward to working with Project Unify,” Exceptional Program
teacher Stephanie Campbell said. “It’s always a really good experience for the
kids to work with their peers and the pep rally was awesome last year. If we’re
doing more activities like that the kids will be very excited.”
Last year, Project Unify sponsored a pep rally for the Exceptional Children the day
before the Special Olympics. This is planned to take place again this year to
promote the Special Olympics and pump up the student body.
“Project Unify will be a promising experience for each and every one of us involved with
the organization,” Khanchandani said.