At Braly Elementary School’s April 24 Special Olympics, students in three special education classes demonstrated their physical abilities in six teacher-led stations set up across the campus.
These six stations of activities included basketball, bowling, soccer (dribbling and shooting), tee-ball (modified baseball), and parachute play.
Fifth-grade “buddies” in the general education classes cheered on the athletes. At the end of these morning games, the athletes, guided by their “buddies,” walked through a tunnel created by the lifted arms of other fifth grade students in the general education classes. Then officers from the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety distributed ribbons to all the participants in an award ceremony.
“The purpose of the event is to celebrate our students,” said Ryan Lee, Principal of Braly Elementary School. “At Montague Elementary School, they held their Special Olympics event last year. Some other teachers and I attended that event and we were inspired by what the students did and we thought about how we could hold the same event at our school. This is the first time in our school’s history that we’re doing this.”
After the awards ceremony, Cameron Ahmadian, Senior Area and Regional Unified Sports Manager of Special Olympics Northern California, recognized Braly Elementary School as a Unified Champion School.
The Special Olympics website states that “Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools engages schools to create climates of inclusion, acceptance, respect, and human dignity for all students with and without intellectual disabilities.”
“We have a partnership with Santa Clara Unified so we’ve collaborated to plan events in the district,” Ahmadian said. “We’ve hosted two events at Montague Elementary School and this is our first event at Braly. We provide sports equipment at each participating site and we select the appropriate activities for the school’s students. We plan the event around that. Our programs are built around unified sports, which means that students with or without special needs can play sports together. So everyone receives a ribbon as a symbol of their efforts toward campus inclusion.”
“I like that this event is school wide,” said Joo Yiu, parent of a child in the school’s special education program. “It’s nice to have an event where all the students, regardless of ability, can all participate together. It’s good for my son to see he’s part of the whole.”
Yiu added that there was collaboration between Elizabeth Knirck, a fourth and fifth-grade special education teacher, and Carolyn Simpson, a fifth-grade general education teacher, to ensure that the school’s Special Olympics event ran smoothly.