Liz Hillmon, Abeera Zaheer
South Windsor High School
1:50 PM EDT, March 25, 2013
Students who typically do not have the opportunity to compete in athletics now have a chance to shine.
Six unified sports teams from Connecticut gathered at South Windsor High School as part of a program that unites athletes, regardless of their disabilities, for competition. The athletes are of similar age, and teams are placed in competitive divisions based on their skill level. Assistant director of Unified Sports George Synnott says that this program is beneficial for everyone involved. "The kids themselves enjoy themselves, I think the partners get as much out of this program as the athletes do, and it's just a win-win situation all around" he says.
Volunteers like Alexandra Libro extend themselves to create a welcoming environment for every player in which they can excel. "They know that we're going to support them no matter what and they feel like they can just try as hard as they want and everyone is going to be there for them," she said.
The Unified sports motto is "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt, encourages the athletes to always be proud of themselves."
Evan Fable, art teacher at South Windsor High School, facilitates the athletes during practice sessions and games. He describes their enthusiasm as nothing less than inspiring. "You should hear them on a day they have unified sports in the afternoon - in the hallway you can hear them going 'UNIFIED' he said. "So right there you can hear it in their voice. They're cheering for each other during the day, getting ready for practice in the afternoon, so they love it."
Participant Jordan Williams says that, regardless of the end score, all the athletes are rewarded with positive relationships, on and off the court. "Unified sports is my family. This is my team , this is my family. I treat my team as a family," she said.Students with special needs are being given the opportunity to participate in collaborative environments that are free from risks that they might otherwise encounter and are developing valuable relationships with