‘Ohana Club’ spreads message of inclusivity, support at local high school

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — An El Paso teen is bringing students at her high school together with a club that focuses on inclusivity, love and support.

Jacquelyn Perez started the “Ohana Club” at Eastwood High School after her little cousin, Cati, who was diagnosed with down syndrome, tragically passed away.

Jacquelyn and her cousin, Cati

Perez said she was very close with her and always wanted her cousin to be included and not separated from others at her school.

In an effort to ensure that all students, including those in special education, could be together as one, Perez listened to the passion ignited in her heart to start the club and create a family environment for those seeking guidance.

“No one is the same, everyone is different. Everyone goes through their own trials, everyone has their own talents,” said Perez. “No matter what, we can come together and put those talents together and be strong as one, rather than being separated or not included because you guys don’t have the same thing in common.”

One of Perez’ favorite memories of the club so far is a joint homecoming proposal for one of her friends. “It was really special because we brought the basketball team and the football team together, so we were able to ask Mikey to homecoming and I know that it made not just him feel special, but me as well.”

The club has gained members even during the pandemic and has kept going with virtual activities. Perez shared there are big plans in the future, especially as COVID-19 eases in our community.

Moving forward, Perez wants the Ohana Club to grow beyond Eastwood and hopefully make its mark at every school in our area, “I hope to one day have a club like Ohana Club at every school so at the end of the day students can come together and feel that love and support that we need.”

To keep up with Ohana Club, you can follow the Twitter page @ehsohana.

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