Special Olympics is Introduced Through Bocce Ball

Written by: Alyssa Tyler, Assistant Editor

Seniors Riley Tinder and Caden Foster and junior Adell Gore started the process of becoming a Unified Champion School through Special Olympics for their Innovation Academy project. Their goal is to create a more unified and inclusive school. 

“Our original idea for our project was to do something with volunteering, so we were setting up a bunch of meetings with different organizations and we just happened to meet with Special Olympics. And going into it, we were going to see if they needed help with anything or opportunities for volunteering, but then they gave us the idea of becoming a Unified Champion school,” said Gore. 

As long as a student is enrolled in a Unified Champion school, they can compete with the team. There are multiple divisions based on an athlete’s ability and their range of motion. The team includes Tinder, Gore, Foster, sophomore Kaitlynn Howard and 2018 graduate Bailey Tinder. The group practices every Friday during Bobcat. 

“We order pizza [during practice] and we talk about what’s going on in life. To try and chit chat with everybody and then we just take turns playing against each other,” said Riley Tinder.

The school has gotten a grant from Special Olympics to help run the program, but Riley, Gore and Foster’s main goal is to increase inclusiveness and unity inside of the school. 

“Our school gets money for putting on this program to just run it. But it’s really about the inclusion with kids with and without a disability. [We are] competing under one name, your school. Getting everyone involved and doing it together because they’re so many cool opportunities that can be brought within that,” said Riley Tinder. 

To become a Unified Champion School students must hit three goals. First, they have to have inclusive youth leadership. Which Gore, Foster and Tinder qualify for through their Innovation Academy project and their involvement in the sports tournaments and practices. Then, they have unified sports between those with and without disabilities. The team qualifies for this through their practices and first bocce ball tournament. Lastly, they must have a whole school engagement. 

“We’re thinking about at pep assemblies announcing the bocce team and then well do soccer in the spring and basketball in the fall,” said Gore. 

The team competed two Sunday’s ago and won their division. They advanced onto an upper level in the tournament on Feb. 16 at Lawrence High School.