Unified Spartans Score a Victory in More Than One Way
On October 6, the Smithfield Selma High School (SSS) Unified Spartans basketball team played against Cleveland High School. After a hard fought game, SSS won with a score of 36-34. ESPN broadcaster, Hall of Famer, and special needs advocate Debbie Antonelli was the announcer.
Special Olympics partners with schools in a program called Unified Champion Schools (UCS). Smithfield-Selma High School initiated this program in 2018, making their dedication to inclusion official. To sustain this partnership, Unified Spartans strive to create meaningful friendships between students with and without intellectual disabilities through inclusive leadership, Unified Sports and whole school engagement.
In this particular event, three Special Olympic student athletes (Unified athletes) were supported by two general education students (Unified Partners) on the court. Each team included six athletes and six partners.
The Unified team may have won the game, but, more importantly, they learned that those with differences can make valuable contributions. This life lesson is a victory unto itself.