West Fargo, ND – (March 23rd, 2023) – Duane O’Neill, of Harwood, ND, received the 2023 Yes I Can Award for Academics from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Duane was honored March 3rd along with other Yes I Can recipients at the CEC Convention and Expo in Louisville, KY. Duane was unable to travel to Louisville and was instead presented his award during an all-school assembly this week at Harwood Elementary in front of staff, his family, and peers.
The Yes I Can Awards celebrate the achievements of children and youth with exceptionalities, encouraging these individuals to seek their highest potential and increase public awareness of the abilities, aspirations, and personal qualities of those with disabilities.
When Duane entered Harwood as a kindergartner, he was overwhelmed by the classroom environment and unable to participate for several months. But Duane had goals, and worked with his teachers and paras to find routines and communication styles that suited him. Thanks to this steadfast dedication, as a fourth grader he now spends most of his day in the classroom with his peers. Duane enjoys lunch time in the cafeteria, willingly engaging with his fellow students. He not only participates in group work but can be found participating in spontaneous communication with his peers and staff members.
His teachers say “Duane thrives on the school routine. He loves coming to school and is a light in the building. He brings smiles to his peers and to the staff in the building. Duane has made a positive impact on his peers by showing that having a disability does not deter a person from participating fully with their class.”