Gabby Carlson | The Echo
Unity promotes social inclusion.
On Friday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Taylor University will be hosting a day of athletics for students with all abilities. This happens by bringing together young people with and without disabilities to compete in track and field events. The event was created by the Special Olympics and is called Unified Game Day.
According to Executive director of Grant County Special Education Cooperative Lisa Graham, Unified Sports was created by the Special Olympics and is designed to promote physical activity and health.
"Special Olympics schools programming is creating a Unified Generation who are leading the charge to re-imagine and create communities in which all people are included and accepted," Graham said.
Students range from kindergarten to eighth grade and are placed in heats based on their grade and ability, so they are against other athletes with comparable skills, making the heats highly competitive.
The Special Education Cooperative putting this event on is made up of five districts in Grant County. Holding the event at Taylor was beneficial because the location did not provide a "home field" advantage.
Erin Luthy, Taylor head volleyball coach, was contacted to partner with the cooperative for this event. Combined with her love for children, Luthy was also a public school employee and has athletic passion and experience.
Graham encourages students to be a part of this event by volunteering. There is a sign up at Luthy's office and students are able to volunteer for as many hours as they are able.
"For one day, everyone is on the same team," Graham said. "Disability or not, all athletes from the same school are working together to achieve a team score while competing against other schools within the county."
The goal for this event is not winning or losing, but social inclusion. This happens through intentionally planned and implemented activities that affect system-wide change, according to the Special Olympics website. Inclusive athletics are a great way to promote this initiative.