LINCOLNTON – It was a basketball game like no other held at Lincolnton High School. He was unified to the core. It’s probably safe to say that there weren’t likely to be louder cheers or more smiles at another game held in the gymnasium at Lincolnton High School. Students cheered and danced in their seats as the players ran onto the field – outstanding students who attend Lincolnton High School as well as those in the regular population all participated.
“Kirk Herbertson is a community representative on our Exceptional Children Roundtable Committee that meets regularly to share ideas,” said Janna Bourbeau Carr, Lincoln County Department of Adaptive Physical Education. “He shared a unified event held at his high school’s alma mater similar to the event taking place today. Kirk expressed his desire to see a similar unified event here in Lincoln County The information was well received and the committee decided to build on it. Kirk has since contributed his time and insights to the planning process and event practices. The Lincolnton High School Unified Club has also been an active participant in the process. of planning.
The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program aims to promote social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities that affect system-wide change, Carr explained. With sport as its foundation, the three-component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with the tools and training to create climates of acceptance in sports, in the classroom and at school. They are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are regularly included and feel part of all activities, opportunities and functions.
“This is accomplished by implementing inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and whole-school engagement,” she said. “The program is designed to be integrated into the fabric of the school, reinforcing current efforts and providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners. What a Unified Champion School looks like can vary widely from school to school, depending on each school’s unique needs, goals, schedules, and other factors, but the basics remain the same.
Throughout the first week of March, Lincolnton High School hosted a Spread the Word to End the Word week, sponsored by the Unified Champions Club, where Lincolnton High School students pledged to include all students and understand that diversity is a gift. at Lincolnton High School and in the community.
“When we meet for the unified event, we will share a segment about our experiences during this special week and a few students will talk about the importance of ending the use of inappropriate stereotypes and spreading the love,” Carr said. “Lincolton High School Unified Champions are led by Renee Smith and she has held that position for years.”
Carr has worked in the Lincoln County Department of Adapted Physical Education for six years.
“It’s rewarding in every aspect, especially the love and joy the students give me is my motivation,” she said. “It’s more than just teaching physical education, it’s being part of a family, these students don’t even know how to have a bad day, so it opens my eyes to yes every day can be absolutely good and fun. Judging by the emotion I felt during our practices, I knew I would never be able to describe the feeling that the actual game would give me. Seeing all these students come together and help each other in a unique way melts my heart and restores my faith in our community and our school. Be kind to all, and these students have embodied this phrase and it’s amazing to see it lived out in all of them through this fun event. .
The Unified Basketball Game and Cheerleading Event brought together students from the regular school population and paired them with students from Lincolnton High School’s Outstanding Children’s Program to form a cheerleading team and two basketball teams. ball. Both basketball teams were led by student coaches and the game was officiated by student referees. The entire student population of Lincolnton High School came to the event and rallied around the athletes who stole the show.
The cheer team and LHS JV coach Kathy Bosiak prepared the girls and guys for the event, teaching them several cheers and dances to perform. The JV Cheer Team also made bows and headbands for our Cheerleaders and ‘bling’ their shirts to make them stand out.
Carr has brought together volunteers to help with all aspects of the event. She planned workouts and held planning meetings to make sure every detail was taken care of.
“I want to thank everyone who has helped make this goal possible, including the Lincolnton Recreation Department and everyone else mentioned,” she said. “College basketball game announcer Tony Smith has volunteered his time to see that this unified basketball game is just as important as any other sporting event at Lincolnton High School. Lincolnton High Battery School, led by band manager William Fisher, played during breaks and for our cheerleaders to dance in. The halftime performance is “Go Bananas” performed by drums and cheerleaders. »
The t-shirts were designed by a student from Lincolnton Middle School’s Outstanding Kids Program and the design was brought to life on our Lincolnton “Gold” Shirts by Mike Hopkins at Gametime Imagewear.