Every year, the city's Department of Behavioral Health/Mental Retardation Services sponsors an essay contest to highlight the inclusion of those with mental retardation in society. Here are a few of the winning entries.

Include Me!

Armend Shehu, Grade 2

Joseph Greenberg School

Dina Pierce, Teacher

First Place Tie, Grades 1-3

Included in a classroom is fun!

Both classes make sure I get my work done.

Everyone in my classes gets along.

They make sure I feel good and I belong!

I really feel like I won!

Like Flowers in the Garden

Gabrielle Suissa, Grade 5

Joseph Greenberg School

Hildy Pepper and Dina Pierce

First Place, Grades 4-6

Like flowers in the garden

We are not the same

But that is okay

Because we work together

Night and day.

Like flowers in the garden

We are not the same

But that is fine

Because we are together

To share our minds.

Like flowers in the garden

We are not the same

But if we open our hearts

We will find

We all bloom in the same sunshine.

We All Belong

Carlos Lanier, Grade 6

J. H. Taggert School

Jeanne Monteith, Teacher

First Place, Grade 6

We all want to belong

For if we don't the world is lonely and divided.

Many feel as if they don't belong.

We are all human, just with different forms, abilities, talents, and gifts.

No matter our skin color, smartness, strengths, and wit.

No matter if we are black, white, or Asian, or any race,

We all belong for we are all human, God's people, God's race.

People in wheelchairs also have gifts, compassion, and patience.

Even though some are challenged,

They are still strong.

If you don't treat them equally, you are wrong.

For if people are challenged in any way

It doesn't mean that they can't save your life someday.

Help each other be strong,

Make a world of winners,

A World Where We All Belong.

Inclusion Is the Future

Pei Ming Zhao, Grade 8

Woodrow Wilson Middle School

Janice Hill, Teacher

First Place, Grades 7-8

Inclusion is belonging to one race, the

Human race,

It's struggling to figure out how to live

With one another,

Inclusion is not something you do to

Someone or for someone,

It is something we do with one another,

Inclusion is a noun,

The opposite of inclusion is exclusion,

Inclusion is pain, struggle, joy, tears,

Grief, mourning, and celebration.

It is the ship that hasn't even been built,

As one we will build it together.

Inclusion is a kaleidoscope of diversity,

Bit of color, sound, shape, and size.

Inclusion is the future.