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‘Square Off with the R–Word’

Allison Klem, Eva Muszynski, Tricia Leano, Caroline Keating, Frankie Zito, Gennie Gilson, Clara Balestrieri and Anna Merlene help out with the refreshments during a break in the dance.

Allison Klem, Eva Muszynski, Tricia Leano, Caroline Keating, Frankie Zito, Gennie Gilson, Clara Balestrieri and Anna Merlene help out with the refreshments during a break in the dance. Photo by Louise Krafft.

The Yorktown High School chapter of Best Buddies hosted a square dance on Saturday, March 10 collaborating with Arlington's Department of Parks and Recreation in addition to the Arlington Partnership for Youth and Family and the Teen Network Board.

More than 100 guests danced in the cafeteria at Yorktown High school as caller Butch Adams introduced new square dance steps. Yorktown’s Best Buddy Chapter currently has 86 members, 13 of whom have disabilities. Chapter president Kelly Willner said, "Our chapter has led an awareness initiative through our peer education committee. Our ‘awareness educators’ give disability awareness trainings to other groups at Yorktown and in the larger Arlington community. This March, we took part in the spread the word to end the word campaign, an initiative to generate awareness about the hurtful and derogatory implications of the word ‘retarded.’ Our square dance was themed ‘square off with the r-word.’"

Best Buddies is a nonprofit that promotes the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There are chapters in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. The Yorktown chapter sponsors three events each month that students with and without disabilities can enjoy together, such as cookie decorating or basketball.