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Students participate in disability awareness campaign

Local high school students create media campaigns

Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-North Syracuse) recognized local high school students for their efforts to combat the stigma associated with developmental, mental, mobility and sensory disabilities.

Students from Cicero-North Syracuse, Liverpool, Fayetteville-Manlius and LaFayette created media campaigns as part of Stirpe's Disability Rights: 2009 Communications Campaign Contest.

"I am proud to recognize the innovative media campaigns submitted by all four schools," Stirpe said. "Every submission showed a real understanding of the challenges individuals with disabilities face and the potential for advertising campaigns to increase public awareness, particularly among young people."

Stirpe, in partnership with Syracuse University's Burton Blatt Institute, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Clear Channel Communications, announced the contest in September and secured a $15,000 grant to assist in disseminating the campaigns.

Students were tasked with not only creating an advertising campaign that increases the awareness of the stigma associated with disabilities but also advances the disability rights movement among their high school peers.

A panel of experts in communications and disability rights reviewed submissions. The winning entry, entitled "We R Above," was submitted by Fayetteville-Manlius students Trey James, Ben Sorensen, Michael Lopez, Katelyn Sorenson, Justin McKeever, Luke Culver, Alex Ranalli, and Nicholas Courgi under the supervision of the their teacher Lindsey Moore. The second place entry was submitted by Cicero-North Syracuse student Mark Mulpagano and his teacher Joe Farranto.

"I am so pleased with the passionate and educational campaigns submitted by each team," Stirpe said. "As the father of a disabled daughter, I know firsthand the challenges we face as we try to educate our friends and neighbors and change the public's attitude toward people with disabilities. These campaigns will go a long way in promoting real, positive change and will raise awareness for this important issue."

All entries will be featured on the Burton Blatt Institute Web site at bbi.syr.edu and will be disseminated through Clear Channel Syracuse and other media outlets.

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