Lest anyone think that Friday’s chilly weather conditions also chilled the mood inside the Knapp Center at Drake University, or that this event might have seemed somehow anticlimactic in the wake of the big one we reported on in January, read on.
The 2nd annual DMPS Middle School Unified Sports Day was bigger and better than last year’s, poorer weather notwithstanding. The “Inclusion Revolution,” one that’s about joined forces; not opposing ones, rages on!
I pledge to look for the lonely, the isolated, the left out, the challenged and the bullied.
I pledge to overcome the fear of difference and replace it with the power of inclusion.
Becky Curry is the district’s Director of Middle Schools Student Services. Let her count the ways that this encore of last year’s inaugural gathering of students with and without intellectual disabilities for a smorgasbord of fun activities is bigger and better:
“This year in addition to participants from our 10 comprehensive middle schools, we also have middle school students from Ruby Van Meter and the Middle School Alternative Center at Jesse Taylor,” she said. “And we have much more student leadership. Instead of all of the events and activities being planned by adults, students contributed their own ideas. Many of the stations are the same with one exception — by popular demand, we have a dance station being run by Harding (Middle School) students. Another exciting change is that 70 high school students are coming from all over the district to help set up and run the (activity) stations. All five comprehensive high schools, Scavo, and Focus High School sent representatives.”
Before the festivities got underway were the opening ceremonies that included jokes and juggling; songs and speeches.
Robert Thacker, a 7th grader from Hiatt Middle School, cheerfully implored hundreds of his peers from other schools to get to know one another.
“Today we are all part of this revolution,” he said, before leading everyone in the Special Olympic pledge: Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.
Eighth grader Tobby Givler from McCombs echoed Robert’s remarks and reminded everyone to exchange plenty of high-fives, advice that was freely followed throughout the day.
Joy Rector and Evie Sly were there, the pair of mascots for the movement we reported on before a big adventure they shared over Spring Break.
“We met students from 39 different countries on our trip,” said Evie. A year ago, Joy delivered some of the opening remarks at the first Unified Sports Day. Since then, she’s traveled all the way to Abu Dhabi, spreading the revolutionary message of inclusion.
Back home, the revolutionaries have been busy fighting their good fight. And they’re STILL not done.
“In addition to today’s, we have a similar event for elementary students called Play Day on April 23rd,” said Curry. “That one will be in the North High School gym.”
Because the one at Drake University isn’t big enough for the both of them!