Washburn Rural H.S. proposes unified sports team

Washburn Rural students and staff present Project Unify at the USD 437 school board meeting.

Athletes and Special Olympians could soon come together at Washburn Rural High School. Educators hope to establish a Special Olympics unified sports team at the high school.

Students and staff presented Project Unify to the board of directors. Project Unify was created by Special Olympics in 2008 to increase athletic and leadership opportunities within communities.

“I’m most excited about the fact that it will allow our students with disabilities to be able to play on their own home field or court,” Washburn Rural special education teacher Kak Eli-Schneider said. “They come to our games and they see the crowds and the student section and it would be so cool for them to be able to experience that as an athlete.”

Washburn Rural’s Board of Education will vote in two weeks whether or not it will establish a unified sports team at the high school.

“I’ve been doing Top Soccer,” Colby Myers, Washburn Rural senior said. “It’s for kids with disabilities age 4 to 18. “I enjoy playing soccer, hanging out by my house and kicking goals. I would love to play for the Washburn Rural soccer team.”

The unified sports team would allow students with and without intellectual disabilities to compete together on the same team.

“As a student I’m really excited for it because of the impact it can have, not only on athletes, but the school as well,” Laura Hunter, Washburn Rural senior said. “It’s just going to be a great opportunity and I can’t wait for it to start.”

Currently there are ten schools in Kansas with a unified sports program.

“I think once we start, it will grow,” Eli-Schneider said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to have one or two teams and if it keeps growing we’ll just do what we can. We’ll grow with them.”

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