‘We All Belong’ group hosts rally to support disability inclusion in schools

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We All Belong rally host Oakley Peterson stands on stage handing out prizes. The rally welcomed attendees to show support for the inclusion of all kids in schools, no matter their abilities and lifestyles. (Kaigan Bigler)

We All Belong hosted a rally to support the inclusion of all kids in schools, no matter abilities and lifestyles on Sept. 26.

Oakley Peterson, activist and mother of four, is advocating for kids with disabilities to be included in their schools by participating as a board member in We All Belong.

When the Jordan School District announced in 2021 they would be moving disability programs out of specific schools in the district, Peterson began fighting for disability rights.

Peterson’s 9-year-old son Welles has Down syndrome, which Peterson prefers to refer to as “Up syndrome.” At the time of Jordan School District’s decision, Welles was in first grade at his fifth school. Peterson had decided she had had enough of moving Welles around so much.

“I think sometimes these district people think, ‘Maybe these kids don’t have the awareness to care,’” Peterson said. 

Children at the We All Belong Rally sport shiny red RODS Hero cape. The rally welcomed attendees to show support for the inclusion of all kids in schools, no matter their abilities and lifestyles. (Kaigan Bigler)

Thus, the “We All Belong” initiative was born. Monday night’s rally was their second rally, and they plan on doing it annually, Peterson said.

“I love to see our community come together in these settings,” Brady Murray, co-head of RODS Heroes, said amidst kids running around in crimson capes embossed with the RODS logo.

Murray and his wife Andrea have two sons with Down syndrome. They created RODS to support children with disabilities in underserved countries to receive the care they need and eventually be adopted.

“The main goal ‘We All Belong’ and ‘RODS Heroes’ has is for these children to be included in society,” Andrea Murray said.

Hundreds of people attended the rally, which Peterson said was a pleasing turn out because they did not know what to expect.

Peterson said a lot of the families that attended did not have children with disabilities.

“That is the most important part — that these parents are witnessing the importance of our kids being part of their kids’ lives — and I think we accomplished that,” Peterson said.

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