Students in the Best Buddies program from Stuckey Elementary School in Las Vegas recently participated in a Special Olympics Unified Sports day.
Best Buddies is dedicated to creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Many children and adults in the Best Buddies program are also Special Olympics athletes – and vice versa. Best Buddies was founded by Anthony Shriver – the son of Special Olympics founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Fifth grade students in the Best Buddies program at Stuckey had the opportunity to experience Unified Sports through Special Olympics – which brings together individuals with and without intellectual disabilities to compete as teammates. Unified Sports was founded on a simple principle – that training and playing together is a quick path to friendship, understanding and inclusion.
“School is an important place for children to learn social skills and develop friendships,” said Kari Bastin, librarian and Best Buddies advisor at Stuckey. “An inclusive environment provides opportunities for student to learn that everyone is different and it is important that we respect these differences.”
During the Unified Basketball day, students (with and without intellectual disabilities) worked on their dribbling, passing and shooting skills. Along with promoting coordination skills and exercise, the Unified Basketball experience allowed students to interact with each other in a fun environment and learn to work together as teammates. Stuckey was honored as a Special Olympics Champion School for their dedication.
“Inclusive education not only benefits students with disabilities, but also creates an environment in which every student has the opportunity to learn and grow,” said Bastin.
There are roughly 6,500 students from 108 schools involved with the Special Olympics Schools Partnership Program in Nevada.