LA PLATA, Md. (January 27, 2012)—The Maurice J. McDonough High School Unified Track team was recently invited by Special Olympics Massachusetts to participate in a youth video conference about their participation in the track and field program. Schools in Massachusetts launched the Unified Track and Field program this school year and Special Olympics reached out to the McDonough team for assistance and advice in establishing a successful program for students.
The goal of the conference was for Massachusetts participants to hear about the program from actual participants through peer-to-peer interaction. McDonough has participated in the program for the past three years, and has a team with more than 35 students. The team also won first place at the 2010 Special Olympics Unified Track and Field State High School Invitational.
Eight students, along with David Bradshaw, a physical education teacher at McDonough and the teams coach, participated in the conference. Student participants were Quinton Dillard, Rashawn Depamphils, David McGhee, Morghan Hungerford, Alex Toribio, Oben Eyong, DAnte Simpson and Sydney Fuller. The group from Massachusetts consisted of Special Olympics administrators, athletic directors, coaches, partners and athletes.
During the conference, Bradshaw talked about the early struggles of launching the program at the school and highlighted the positive atmosphere Unified Sports has built among students. Each student was also asked to share their personal experiences with the conference panel. Bradshaw said the students were excited to share their successes and to assist other schools in launching the program.
Charles County Public Schools partnered with Special Olympics Maryland in 2008 to offer high school students all abilities and backgrounds the opportunity to participate on a track and field team. Unified sports teams composed of a combination of students with and without disabilities who train together and compete against other schools.
The goal of the partnership is to provide students with disabilities opportunities to explore their athletic abilities and social, communications and relationship-building skills. The partnership also provides students without disabilities the opportunity to work with students from diverse backgrounds, learn about teamwork and communication, and participate in a rewarding sports program. The program is supported with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education and Special Olympics Maryland.
Source: Charles County Public Schools