This past spring, special needs students from Seymour and Madison took the Seymour High School track and field to compete in an Inclusion Revolution.
The track meet was in conjunction with the IHSAA’s Champions Together program, which allows students with disabilities to feel included by competing in the three modified events.
On Wednesday, SHS was presented a banner to hang in the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium recognizing the school as a member of the program.
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“The IHSAA has a program called Unified Athletics and a Championship Together banner program,” SHS assistant athletic director Dave Urbanski said. “The banner program is a springboard into creating a unified athletics team, which is your special needs kids competing with other schools in licensed IHSAA events — the first (sport) being track and field.
“Last year, the student athletics board decided to make that their annual project. They had an Inclusion Revolution track meet with Madison high school during a varsity track meet. Madison brought over their student with special needs and competed in three events. According to the program, you’re supposed to create a community awareness program and raise $1,500 for special Olympics. The board raised the money taking donations and selling Orange Leaf to the students at the high school.”
Urbanski said Seymour was one of 37 schools in Indiana to fulfill the program’s requirements.
“We were only one of 37 high schools, out of 400, that completed the program,” he said. “There are only 56 schools out of 400 that have a unified program. Their goal was 100 this year, and we will be one of those 100. Lee Lonzo, who is responsible for Unified Athletics and Indiana Special Olympics, presented the kids who took part in the spring track meet with their banner today.”
At the high school, there is currently a penny war going on to raise money.
The earnings from the fundraiser will go to Indiana Special Olympics and the starting goal.
Organizations at the school plan to raise awareness and help the program grow, and host a bigger meet this spring with Jennings County and Bedford North Lawrence.
“National honor society and student athletics board, in January, are going to do a community-wide awareness program,” Urbanskis aid. “Not just in school, but everyday life. We will have another inclusion revolution track meet on April 7, its been approved by the athletics department at Bedford North Lawrence and Jennings County — it’s going to be even bigger. They will bring their special needs students, and they will compete in shot put, long jump, 50 yards dash and a relay.
“We’re going to continue raising awareness. It’s not only the student athletics board now, its grown to national honor society as well. They have kind of joined forces for their community awareness project. It’s all going to crescendo to that track meet (in April). Whatever money is raised will be dedicated to the Special Olympics.”
In the initial meet, SHS planned on having around six kids compete in the first Inclusion Revolution.
However, near 20 kids ended up taking the field.
Urbanski said that he expects 50 to 60 kids from SHS, BNL and Jennings County to compete in this year’s event.
“We anticipate a huge, huge event,” he said. “Even if it rains on that day, we’re going to have it. We’re not going to bring all those kids here and not have it.
“It’s a fantastic program and event. Other schools that don’t take advantage of these type of programs are really missing out on a feeling that is indescribable. I remember when some of the special needs students from Madison and Seymour were running across the 50 yards line with their hands raised in exhilaration last year. Other schools are missing out on an opportunity that pays off for years to come.”
The Special Olympics program extends to other sports, and the Seymour school system plans on taking advantage of the opportunity.
“Kathy Sunbury, who is a special needs teacher at the elementary level, has gotten together with other elementary schools and the community to have other club programs involved with Indiana Special Olympics,” Urbanski said. “They can do basketball, swimming: pretty much anything. There’s probably over half a dozen programs that Indiana Special Olympics sponsors. We’ve had a couple meetings where we want to do those small programs.”
Urbanski said that the banner will be presented to the public during a basketball game in January.
Those interested in donating may contact the athletics department at SHS.