“Just Say Hi” in NYC Schools


The Cerebral Palsy Foundation (CPF) and the New York City Department of Education we have launched CPF’s “Just Say Hi” campaign in public schools across the City, focused on furthering the inclusion of students with disabilities in schools.

The program uses CPF’s “Just Say Hi” campaign as an innovative starting point for creating discussions about inclusion and for developing effective approaches to creating an inclusive and effective learning environment. Students not only create their own “Just Say Hi” campaigns, but also following a multi-faceted lesson plan which is embedded into the Social Studies Curriculum.

The original campaign answers the question, “How do you start a conversation with someone who has a disability?” with the simple thought of “Just Say Hi.” Spots feature dozens of well-known celebrities, from William H. Macy to Gayle King, John Oliver, Joe Girardi, Rosanna Scotto, and Tim Cook. The phrase “Just Say Hi” is now even part of Siri.

“This is a wonderful moment,” said Richard Ellenson, CEO of CPF. “Our ‘Just Say Hi’ campaign provides a message that is resonating and helping us all begin the deeper conversations we need to have. Working with the team at the DOE, and backed by a program crafted by NYU’s Child Study Center, we have a remarkable opportunity to address real challenges – and opportunities – at an early age.”

“Creating an inclusive environment is critical to ensuring students have the supports they need to learn and thrive,” said NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. The ‘Just Say Hi’ campaign will provide staff and students with guidance about how to start important conversations with their classmates, and how to build on those initial exchanges. We are excited to work with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to bring this program to NYC Schools to help promote and build inclusive school cultures.”

“Just Say Hi in the NYC Schools” is being introduced in eight select schools as students begin to make their own Just Say Hi spots and develop accompanying messages. It will be expanded in September 2017.

“The ‘Just Say Hi’ campaign directly supports the work we are doing across the City to ensure schools build inclusive communities that are welcoming of all students. Students with disabilities are successful when school leaders and peers welcome them as important members of their communities and have a strong framework of supports,” said NYC Schools Deputy Chancellor Corinne Rello-Anselmi.

The introduction of the initiative is also being supported by organizations such as CUNY’s CAT Youth Theatre, whose one-act play, Facebook Walls, portrays how a student with disabilities deals with aspects of inclusion among his school friends. “Inclusion may seem daunting at first,” said CAT YT Director Helen White. “But in fact, it brings new levels to our understanding of the human condition and has helped us all see the ways we can work better together. We’re thrilled that the DOE is sharing that message.”