Venice High special education students and general education students together participated this year in Special Olympics Unified Sports for basketball and soccer.
Unified Sports partnered with numerous schools to bring people with and without disabilities to train and compete on the same team. The goal is to improve physical fitness, to encourage fun and to get young people to learn more about each other, according to the special Olympics website.
The teams are made up of students of similar age and ability, which makes practices more fun and, games more challenging and exciting for all.
LAUSD partnered up with Special Olympics to help students of all capabilities interact with one another outside of their regular group of friends.
Venice High students participated in the three soccer competitions in the fall semester and six basketball competitions in the beginning of spring semester. The Venice High team ended up in sixth place for basketball and seventh place for soccer.
All the participants had a great time playing and meeting new people.
Senior Josh Noonon has been helping out the special education students since he was a sophomore. He mentioned that it is loud and exciting. He added that this way he is able to enhance his social skills because he believes that everyone is different and there is different way to talk to each individual.
When asked what motivated him to be a part of this, he said “I have a cousin who is handicapped and that pushed me to help and have this worthwhile experience.”
“It was an eye-opening experience to play with special education students,” said senior Silvia Curiel. “At first it was awkward and then I became comfortable and now we are all really good friends.”
It was nice to see them having fun and I would like other people to help and get more involved with this program,” said senior Tony Deamicis.
Both special education students Shawn Smith and Davante Scovell said that they had a lot fun playing basketball with other schools and would like to do it again.
Venice’s adaptive physical education coach Ryan Lewis said that this is a great opportunity that brings general and special education students together on the same team to play against other teams from different schools. He added that the practices take place during fifth period and a few general education students from other PE classes help out with the training.
“Venice hosted two games – a practice and a conference final,” said Mr. Lewis. “It was really fun and successful event. Both general and special education students benefited from it and made a lot of friends.”
The special education students that participated were Thyane Land, David Farley, Domique White, Devante Scovell, Deshawn Smith, Kevin Joya, Alondra Urbina, Roberto Logarlo, and Matthew Paul.
Some of the Venice general education students that helped out and played along were Josh Noonan, Silvia Curiel, Allen Hernandez, Angel Delacruz, Kennia Leal, and Nicholas Jonson.
The coach also said that leadership students and cheerleaders from both Venice and other schools participated in the event and made it exciting for everyone.