Public School and Special Needs Students Learn about Social Inclusion Through a Sports Competition
Cedar Drive Middle School students, Colts Neck, invited students from Harbor School, a school for students with special needs, Eatontown, to participate in “Fans in the Stands,” a program by Special Olympics Unified Sports®* designed to promote unity, inclusion, and social interaction among the student body through a pep rally with banners, posters, and a shared sport competition, named Cedar Ball.
Russ Witt, a Cedar Drive Eighth Grade special education teacher; Colin Rigby, the Cedar Drive Middle School principal; and Jennifer Bogin, the adaptive physical education teacher at Harbor School, organized the Cedar Ball competition as an ongoing opportunity to teach students the importance of inclusion and as an occasion for students to realize that they all have similar interests whether it is through dance, music, sports, art, or games.
This year’s basketball competition began with a show before students took the court. The Cedar Drive Middle School chorus band, under the direction of the Colts Neck High School ROTC, played the Star Spangled Banner. Cedar Drive Middle School players then teamed up with the Harbor students, racing up and down the court to score. The entire school watched and cheered!
Jennifer Bogin, Harbor School, said, “It was truly an amazing event that was not only fun, but it also unified both communities. The Harbor School students left the event asking when they could visit Cedar Drive Middle School again. Plans for this will hopefully be coming soon! It is important for our students to participate in these special events with peers outside of Harbor School to continue to promote social inclusion.”
Harbor School is one of three RKS Associates state-approved special education schools that include the Alpha School, Jackson, and the Harbor School, Eatontown. All three schools provide education, therapeutic, and behavioral support for children who have challenges, such as multiple disabilities, cognitive impairments, autistic spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, behavioral disorders, or other health impairments.
For more information or information about school enrollment, contact Dana Giblin at 732-544-9394.
*Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive sports program that combines an approximately equal number of Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) on teams for training and competition. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability.
RKS Associates Schools: Gateway School: 60 High Street Carteret, NJ 07008 (732.541.4400) https://thegatewayschool.com/; Alpha School: 2210 West County Line Road, Suite #1, Jackson, NJ 08527 (732.370.1150) https://alphaschool.com/ ; Harbor School: 240 Broad Street, Eatontown, NJ 07724 (732.544.9394) https://harborschool.com/