Unified Sports Benefits All Students

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Corinne O’Grady, Reporter

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Unified Sports Benefits All Students

Rachel Williams and Ms.Walters having a great time celebrating a goal during a friendly game of crab soccer with Kaylie Meredith, Xavier Thomas, and Scott Conte.

Rachel Williams and Ms.Walters having a great time celebrating a goal during a friendly game of crab soccer with Kaylie Meredith, Xavier Thomas, and Scott Conte.

Ali Rehm

Rachel Williams and Ms.Walters having a great time celebrating a goal during a friendly game of crab soccer with Kaylie Meredith, Xavier Thomas, and Scott Conte.

Ali Rehm

Ali Rehm

Rachel Williams and Ms.Walters having a great time celebrating a goal during a friendly game of crab soccer with Kaylie Meredith, Xavier Thomas, and Scott Conte.

Unified Sports is a club and elective, with over fifty students involved in the program, where general education students work and play sports with special education students.

“The goal is to unify students on campus with various intellectual abilities through sports and activities,” said Keri Walters, the women’s athletic director.

Unified Sports is a positive and friendly environment for special needs students. General education students can participate in the club and play various sports and games with them.

This can either be taken as a club, which meets once a week during lunch on Wednesday and even after school for special events on occasion, or as a fourth period elective. If students participate in the program as an elective, it counts as a sport.

Walters hopes to “branch out into other clubs and activities” as the club grows and becomes more popular.

Special education teacher Rogello Galvin said, “Although our program is set in an athletics or sports setting, the focus is inclusion, helping others and promoting a positive atmosphere for all students, staff, friends and parents involved.”

Junior Kaylie Long, who participates in the club, said, “It’s so important, influencing the kids, because it’s important to treat them as any other high schooler and having their peers treat them as equals.”

Long also said participating in the program helped her think about doing something like Unified Sports as a career when she gets older because “working with the kids is a great opportunity and makes me feel very good about myself and seeing the kids have fun playing the sport makes me feel good.”

Galvin said his favorite part about the program is having over fifty students know these kids as well as he does. He also said that schools from all over southern California come and visit to see what Walters and him have built.

Daniella Saldana, Ava Suarez and Samiyah Deculit all said that their favorite sport to play in Unified Sports is basketball. Suarez said her favorite part about the program is getting to interact and participate with everybody in the group and that it is always a lot of fun.

In January, the Unified Sports team traveled to Corona Del Mar High School to play basketball against their Unified Sports team. They are also planning another basketball game in May and will be participating in the Special Games at Cal State Fullerton this spring.

Walters hopes more of our district high schools will create Unified Sports teams so the team can play against them in the future.