Story by Makenzie Wisniewski, Emily Eshweiler, Haley Ruane - Foran High School, Milford
The Unified Sports Program at Foran High School continues to unite students not only at Foran but at over 120 schools throughout the state.
This program, “brings athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together to play sports, gain physical fitness, develop friendships and demonstrate appreciation and respect for each other both on and off the playing field,” according to the Milford Unified Sports website.
The group’s goal is to spread the word that there is something for everyone; no one should ever have to feel excluded.
Director of Pupil Personnel Services, Carole Swift says the program is rewarding because, “We are building an essence of community throughout Foran.”
Swift is a big supporter of Unified Sports, approving needed funding for events. The Board of Education and School Supt. Dr. Anna Cutaia have also been supportive, sanctioning the funding of the program and attending Unified events.
“It’s an opportunity for kids to work together, have fun together,” Swift adds. “I think it erases barriers and separation between kids with disabilities and kids without disabilities. It not only benefits the students involved; I think it benefits the adults that are involved and the greater community.”
The Unified program allows everyone an equal opportunity to get involved in sports, including track,volleyball, soccer, basketball, bowling, and wiffleball. Being involved in a sport allows kids to develop new friendships, a sense of teamwork, and to develop strong sportsmanship.
The organization believes it is important that everyone gets the chance to acquire these qualities, because they make people as individuals stronger.
Unified Sports allows students to work together in building the program in a fun way that participants can enjoy. In the program there are competitions and practices. Senior, Kelsey Cugini, who is involved in the program, states, “My favorite thing about Unified Sports is competing with different schools and making new friends. Playing different sports and competing with new schools, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it's just fun to be competing with everyone.”
The Foran High School sports teams work together with the unified students.
Having Unified sports teams is important not only because everyone has an opportunity, but because it helps build a stronger community. Athletic Director Anthony Vitelli states, “The Unified Sports Program gives kids an opportunity to work together, and gives some students an opportunity that they wouldn't have. The program helps build partnerships. Different sports teams get involved and help the kids learn more about the sport and how to play.”