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A golden year for inclusion, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics

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A golden year for inclusion, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics

Senior David Salano carries the ball for a touchdown

Senior David Salano carries the ball for a touchdown

Senior David Salano carries the ball for a touchdown

Senior David Salano carries the ball for a touchdown

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As the Special Olympics organization celebrates its 50th anniversary, students play their part in the inclusion revolution.

Whether students with disabilities, like autism, a cognitive disability or down syndrome, are cooking in the culinary kitchens, painting in art, singing in the choir, or performing on stage, there is no shortage of special education representation in our classrooms.

One major way special education students are included in campus life is through the Unified sports program: the high school chapter of Special Olympics that combines athletes with disabilities and typical students as partners on sports teams throughout the year. The teams play flag football, soccer, and basketball, as well as run track.

The addition of a cheer squad to the program is expanding the horizon of inclusion in sports, and is creating a new localized outlook on the “Choose to Include” movement.

The launching of Perry’s Unified cheer team occurred at the Unified flag football team’s home opener earlier this month.

“Just seeing the girls smile and seeing them happiest I’ve seen them since I’ve worked with them was, is, very rewarding.” First-year head coach, Lani Redmond shared.

Redmond also elaborated on the challenges that come with being a Unified coach. A difficulty that has come to light has been “learning the cheers and then modifying them to suit the girls and their ability levels. Also just keeping the girls on task.”

Redmond was excited about the prospects of the immediate impact the cheer squad will have.

“As a school it will be the first time they see Unified cheer and hopefully it will bring more awareness to Unified as a whole program. [The Unified cheer team] is only going to help everyone come together and grow,” She explained.  

The cheer squad consists of four cheerleaders with disabilities and two partners. Junior Abby Kozel, has been a Unified partner for three years, and is excited for her first year as a partner for the cheer squad

“I really enjoy helping the girls out with routines and especially how excited they get when they’re performing,” she remarked.

Maiya Pope, a sophomore on the squad, gave us a play by play of her favorite cheer. “My favorite is spirit” Pope explained. The cheer involved a stomping and clapping rhythm alongside a chant about hyping up the crowd.  

The “Choose to Include” movement debuted as a celebration of the Special Olympics organization’s 50th anniversary. The organization created the five year campaign to inspire action and ultimately end discrimination for people with intellectual disabilities.

This new idea of an Inclusion Revolution has inspired multiple individuals to speak out and get involved with the special education department. Senior Fletcher Jones was voted the 2018 homecoming king. Grace Johnson, a junior, creates masterpieces alongside typical peers in her art class, and three inclusion students sing with the choir.

Kozel summed up her Unified cheer experience with an exclamation. “The fact that everyone is so close and sweet to each other all the time is really amazing and I love being apart of it!”

 

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About the Writer
Anna Myers, Staff Reporter

Anna Myers is a sophomore at Perry High School, and is excited for her first year on the staff. She is the 2018-19 double truck reporter for The Precedent,...

1 Comment

One Response to “A golden year for inclusion, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics”

  1. Sandra Perrin on November 18th, 2018 5:29 PM

    Fantastic article clearly outlining the inclusion programs at Perry. Congratulations for making readers aware of this invaluable program!

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A golden year for inclusion, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics