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Musical Inclusion

Senior works toward inclusion for everybody with music

Hand in hand, senior Madeline Wederquist and her brother turn one picture into a full blown photo shoot. To Wederquist her relationship with her brother is more than that of siblings; he is a built in best friend. “Clay is the most stubborn and spunky human being I know and I love him with my whole heart,” Wederquist said. “He’s always there when I need a hug and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”

photo courtesy of Madeline Wederquist

Hand in hand, senior Madeline Wederquist and her brother turn one picture into a full blown photo shoot. To Wederquist her relationship with her brother is more than that of siblings; he is a built in best friend. “Clay is the most stubborn and spunky human being I know and I love him with my whole heart,” Wederquist said. “He’s always there when I need a hug and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”

Taylor Hofbauer, Staff Writer

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Rows of musicians lined up in the St. Paul Lutheran Church ready to learn at the weekly Omaha Special Musicians gathering. Students were eager to split into small groups to begin preparation for their seasonal performance. Musician Clayton Wederquist unpacks his drumsticks to begin his practice. Even more excitement was geared toward the long awaited snack and dance party at the end of the meeting.

Special Musicians, a completely non-profit program, works towards inclusion and acceptance for all. Their main priority is to provide a space where those with disabilities may feel as powerful, capable and strong as they actually are. The program solely relies on student volunteers to help teach the musical curriculum and maintain a safe environment for the musicians. While not affiliated with the Special Olympics or any school ran Unified Sports, Special Musicians provides a similar place for students to express themselves while doing something they enjoy. Senior Joanna Bai is a co-founder and co-CEO of the program.

“Both I and my co-founder, Carly Renken, have been active volunteers with the Special Olympics for many years and love how empowering that platform is for so many people,” Bai said. “We both express ourselves through music and wanted to open an opportunity for youth with disabilities to do the same.”

Bai is just one of many students involved with the program. Senior Madeline Wederquist found the program through friends and social media. Wederquist began attending meetings in June of 2018 and has continued to be a recurring member.

“I am in Special Musicians because I love being involved with inclusion programs and experiencing how the musicians choose to express themselves through their music,” Wederquist said. “I also think it plays a major role in teaching the musicians how to use their manners and interact with other people in a positive and appropriate way.”

After experiencing a few sessions, Wederquist thought that the Special Musicians meetings would be the perfect atmosphere for her brother Clayton Wederquist who was a graduate of Millard West. Clayton was born with Down Syndrome, but he and his family refused to let that be a defining factor in his life. This is showcased by his plans to enroll at Metropolitan Community College in a culinary skills course in order to pursue dreams of being a chef.

“I know Special Musicians is about the music, but I like all of the people I spend time with and all of the fun I have while I am at meetings,” Clayton Wederquist said. “I like learning with other people seeing them play their instruments.”

A strong advocate for inclusion, Wederquist had spent time with her brother continuously encouraging him to be strong, independent and to push him to reach his goals.

“I wouldn’t call Down Syndrome a disability,” Madeline Wederquist said. “Clay is so able and the word disability limits his wide range of abilities. Clay is insanely spunky and is so determined to follow his dreams of being a chef.”

The Wederquist siblings have an inseparable bond exemplified by Maddie’s support for her brother and Clayton’s urge to be there for his little sister.

“Mads and I have a lot of memories like making meals, getting ice cream and seeing movies,” Clayton Wederquist said. “I love being a big brother to Mads. We are always there for each other and I will always protect her.”

As siblings, Clayton and Maddie grew up doing just about everything together. Special Musicians was not any different. The activity is another memory for the both of them to cherish as they grow.

 

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About the Writer
Taylor Hofbauer, Staff Writer

Taylor is a senior in her first year being apart of the CATalyst and MWHS Wildcat News Staff. Taylor is also in her second year on the Prowler Yearbook...

1 Comment

One Response to “Musical Inclusion”

  1. Jessica Hamzhie on February 5th, 2019 12:41 pm

    Wonderful article!! Thanks for sharing your story and being such a positive role , Madeline!

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