On Tuesday, May 10, the annual Unified Champions day will come into full swing for students competing or volunteering. Students from Paoli, Salem, West Washington, Springs Valley, East Washington, and Crawford County High School will all be involved with Unified Champions Day. Unified Champion Field Day is an inclusive physical education and gross motor education program designed to bring students with and without disabilities together to learn the skills and knowledge needed to participate successfully in inclusive sports and fitness programs in their schools and communities.
“Unified Champions field day in my opinion is the best day of the year. It brings together special education students and non special education students in an inclusive manner where all can participate in athletic events without judgment. It is a rewarding experience for all involved whether the students are competing or volunteering,” said Heather Gerlach, Unified Champions Coordinator.
Gerlach will be running the field events for the students who are in Kindergarten-2nd Grade and making sure the entire day runs smoothly ensuring everyone has a fun and rewarding time. Tyler Kumpf, Physical Education teacher at Throop Elementary, will run the track events for students 3rd Grade-12th Grade. Kumpf will also be helping with organizing the track events which are the 25 and 50 meter relay races.
“For someone like myself who has a passion for health, fitness, and sports, it’s a great way to see students with disabilities compete in an athletic event. We often forget how precious life is. Unified Champions is a great reminder that while some students have disabilities, they can still cross the finish line by themselves or with a little help from a peer,” said Kumpf.
Each special education student participating has a non disabled peer who will be participating in the events as well. The high school students will be helping to run the field events, running events, tug-o-war, and long jump. The South Central Area Special Ed co-op staff will also be in attendance helping to run field events and the concession stands. Superintendents from area school corporations, Paoli, Salem, West Washington, East Washington, Crawford County, and Springs Valley will be cooking lunch for the athletes participating in the event as well.
Story by Corinne Magner