Unified Sports impacts the student body through inclusivity and athleticism

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In a society of individualism, we find one group that is totally 'Unified'

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Unified Sports impacts the student body through inclusivity and athleticism

Students cheer for Unified athletes during a 2017-2018 assembly.

Students cheer for Unified athletes during a 2017-2018 assembly.

Aiden Owen

Students cheer for Unified athletes during a 2017-2018 assembly.

Aiden Owen

Aiden Owen

Students cheer for Unified athletes during a 2017-2018 assembly.

Mead High School’s Unified Sports program may only be five years old, but it has brought students and community together in order to provide more opportunities, celebrate our differences, and recognize that there is often more than meets the eye when it comes to all of our students.

Betsy DeVos (U.S. Secretary of Education) had taken part in a recent act to cut federal funding by over 17 million dollars for Special Olympics. However, Donald Trump quickly shut this down before it became a reality. This came as good news to many. 

Ever since its creation five years ago, Mead High’s Unified program has really taken off. Mrs. Amber Vanzant, a special education teacher, commented, “Over the past few years, involvement has grown so much, and [it has been great] to see more acceptance of people with disabilities in our school.”

Unified Sports have spread from flag football to basketball to soccer, so our students with disabilities can play sports during the entirety of the school year. Kylie Zanini, a sophomore at Mead that helped with Unified during the football and basketball season, said, “My sister has Down Syndrome [and] so do a lot of kids with special needs [that] I’ve really connected with.”

“I’ve seen a lot of growth socially,” said Ms. Vanzant, following the success during the basketball season and the annual Teachers vs. Unified game.

According to several research studies by the Special Olympics (among others about this same topic), these sports help kids not only with athletic talent but with other things such as inclusion, attitude, self-esteem and improvement of motor skills. In fact, according to a study done by The University of Massachusetts Boston in 2008, 97% of student involved with unified sports reported improvement in social relationships.

“Everyday, everybody out there is smiling and having the best time together,” said Preston Hall, a Senior here at Mead who has been helping with Unified Sports this year.

Zanini added that one of the best parts of being with Unified is, “Getting to know the kids better and, they are really happy people and bring joy.”

The upcoming season for Unified is soccer, so show support and be in the stands for their games; the first one being against Brighton on the April 29. However, they are working on setting up an earlier game at Mead.