Aiding in Acceptance With Frost’s Award-Winning BandAid Project

Aiding in Acceptance with Frost’s Award-Winning BandAid Project

Robert Frost held its fourth annual BandAid Project on March 15. Developed by Frost speech-language pathologist Stephanie O’Connell to coincide with April as National Autism Awareness Month, the daylong event – which won the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission’s Inter-Faith Anti-Bias Task Force Award last year – works to increase acceptance of people with autism and developmental disabilities rather than just awareness and provides students with a firsthand experience of the daily struggles of people with disabilities.

Participating students wear a Band-aid across their mouth for the entire day, and must use pen and paper, gestures and even body language to communicate with their teachers and peers while taking part in all required activities of the school day. At BandAid’s conclusion, the students gather to play a game or complete an activity reflecting on the difficulties they had without the ability to communicate like others.

"Doing the BandAid Project for three straight years was a really good experience, and I looked forward to it every year,” said eighth-grader David Perez. “It’s basically the same as every other day, but once you put the Band-aid on, everything changes for you. When I tried to speak, I felt totally different. I really wanted to rip it off and speak as much as I want, but I knew I couldn’t, because I dedicated myself to finishing the project. It gave me a new point of view on what people with disabilities have to deal with in daily life.”

“This year, at some point during the day, I wanted to cry,” said eighth-grader Karly Haskins, another previous BandAid participant. “It was really hard. I wanted to talk to so many of my friends and tell them what was on my mind. It was definitely a struggle.”

“I was impressed with our students’ ability to reflect on this activity,” said O’Connell.  “I asked them to give me one word that described how it felt to be speechless for the day. Students reported the following feelings: trapped, stuck, sad, embarrassed, annoyed, frustrated, mad, and furious. I acknowledged their feelings and then challenged them to think about what it must be like to feel that way all the time, as it is for someone with a disability. They got it!”