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Davis Journal

Being a friend can change the world

Mar 16, 2023 12:56PM ● By Becky Ginos

First Lady Abby Cox reads “All My Stripes” a story for children with autism to students at Holbrook Elementary. Cox visited schools in Davis County to teach about inclusion. Photo by Becky Ginos

BOUNTIFUL—Accepting one another could be the key to ending the divisiveness in the world today. The idea of inclusion – being a friend to someone who looks or acts different – was the message First Lady Abby Cox shared with students at Holbrook Elementary last week as one of her stops through the state to teach acceptance.

“We can all see people with our eyes but we need to get to know them,” said Cox. “We might talk differently or look different but there’s much more people can learn about us. Listening to someone’s story and thinking ‘I can help them’ and wanting to reach out is exactly what we’re talking about. That’s inclusion.”

Sometimes people are in a wheelchair, she said. “Or their body is different from mine or the way that it works.”

Cox said she met a little boy who was in a wheelchair. “I asked if he’d ever had anyone bully him. He told me ‘no not really, people are pretty friendly to me.’ I thought that was cool but then he said he used to sit on his porch with cookies and a sign that said ‘will you be my friend?’ They’re nice and kind but they’re not my friend.’”

Is there a difference? she said. “Think ‘would I invite somebody who is different or thinks differently to my birthday party?’ That’s inclusion.”

Cox read to the kids the book “All My Stripes” a story for children with autism. After she finished she asked children in the audience to talk about how they felt.

“Sometimes I try to change to match what other people want,” said one girl.  

“Everyone noticed your outward appearance first,” said a boy. “I wish they would get to know you inside. Sometimes they leave me out.”

“People judge you for your looks not your personality,” said another girl.

“There are things I’m not good at so I’m a target,” said another student.

Being a true friend, that’s what inclusion means, Cox said. “We all want friends – even adults. You can change the world by being a friend. You can be a governor, a teacher or in Congress. Whatever you want to be, you can do that and you’ll be in a position to be a friend and you can make the world a better place.”

Cox then had the kids join her in making a pledge. “I pledge to look for the lonely, isolated and left out, challenged or bullied and overcome the fear of differences and replace that with the power of inclusion. I choose to include.”