The cornerstones of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) have continually left lasting impacts on the UWL campus and around the world. Some of these examples include projects published in the fall 2021 render of UWL capstones. Some of these projects of this interpretation include topics related to environmental justice and how COVID-19 has left a lasting impact on our society.
As for this fall, a course in the psychology department: CYC 495: Capstone in Child Youth Care under the minor at risk, led by Associate Professor Lisa Caya, is pursuing a flagship project on diversity and inclusion at Logan Middle School in La Crosse.
Ryley Butler Modaff, a student in the class, said that for the project “there is a media team, an advertising team and an event planning team.” All are working together to raise awareness of racial and LGBTQ + inclusion in colleges in the La Crosse region.
Regarding the wrap-up class, Butler Modaff said, “As a group we decided on our own topic and worked with our teacher to decide what community needs we needed to address.” Brainstorming with his team, Butler Modaff said, “We thought about which schools we wanted to work with, which group we wanted to work with and what group we wanted to work with. [looked at] inclusion as a general subject. They also noticed that “looking at La Crosse as a whole [regarding] race and LGBTQ + inclusion, [it is prominent that it] is becoming more and more of a problem, especially with children growing up in the area.
Discussing the project in more detail, Butler Modaff said, “We also realized that we didn’t know how to teach inclusion to children because we are still working on it ourselves, but we wanted to use more techniques based on it. ’empathy to help them, especially [in regard to] emotional intelligence.”
While acknowledging that teaching inclusion, in general, is very difficult, Butler Modaff said, “I don’t think we can totally teach them inclusion, but we have scheduled two days with Logan Middle School and what we plan to use the first day as a school day. Teach and show them that they are different and that they can be different from others.
She clarified and said, “The first day of the two-day activity will serve as a gauge for understanding where the kids at Logan Middle School can be when it comes to emotional intelligence. On this second day, the group will tackle how individuals, even college students, can make a difference through inclusion and discuss the importance of inclusion at all levels of life.
While discussing the importance of inclusion in the community, Butler Modaff said, “I think we are definitely in a changing society, and we want to make sure that [children] are prepared for what happens… We know that La Crosse has issues with minorities that are not included and [issues with] LGBTQ + [inclusion] and we want [everyone] feel that they are heard and that they can understand how to help themselves and others. While also establishing the importance of racial and LGBTQ + inclusion, Butler Modaff also established the importance of individuality. She said, “We want them to know that they don’t have to stick with the status quo.
Regarding the lasting effects of the wrap-up project, Butler Modaff said, “I think what we take away from the classroom is that inclusion is difficult to teach, especially to small children. As a small administration, we learn that you have to go through the school district, principal and teacher just to get a PowerPoint approved … [ to us] it shows that inclusiveness shouldn’t be such a hoop to go through, it should just be something we do. Butler Modaff explained and said, “Such an important topic, especially as the world changes, shouldn’t be something that is a logistical hoop, it should just be something that we naturally go with.”