On March 15th, Special Education Teacher Breanna McGee and several other volunteers held the first informational meeting for students interested in joining the Unified Track Team, a team made primarily for students with physical and mental disabilities. Accepting Westwood High School students of all abilities, this team focuses on unity, acceptance, and effort.
This team was organized to bring students together and promote unity amongst all types of students. Separate from the already established Boys and Girls Track Teams, this program accommodates for students of all physical and mental disabilities. This program encourages anyone interested to join the team: most students who attended the informational session are known to have some degree of mental or physical handicap, but the team is not limited to those who do.
“It’s a team consisting of students with and without disabilities that compete together and support each other” said McGee, the head coach. “This is a great opportunity for students of any skill level and physical ability to be a part of a team.”
In an excerpt from the Massachusetts Special Olympics official website,
“Special Olympics Unified Sports® brings together ATHLETES with intellectual disabilities and athletes without intellectual disabilities (UNIFIED PARTNERS) to train and compete on the same team. Participants improve their physical fitness, sharpen their skills and learn acceptance and inclusion while participating in Unified Sports. A primary goal of Unified Sports is to equalize the ability level of Special Olympics athletes with their partners and to promote inclusion through team practice and competition.
The Unified Sports program expands sports opportunities for participants seeking new challenges and dramatically increases their inclusion in the community, by helping to break down the barriers that have historically kept people with and without intellectual disabilities apart. At the same time, Unified Sports provides a valuable sports opportunity to individuals with intellectual disabilities who are not presently involved with Special Olympics, especially those with mild disabilities.
Originally founded in Massachusetts, Unified Sports has become an important addition to Special Olympics internationally and has helped further its mission, by improving self-esteem, fostering acceptance and creating new friendships among its participants.”
Students at the informational session were enthusiastic about the program and seemed excited to participate. Many of these kids love the idea of competing as a proper team and can’t wait to get started.
Their practices are held from 2:15 to 3:15 every Monday and Friday at the WHS track. Unified Track meets are planned to start the week of April 10th. All are welcome.