There are many approaches to how Project UNIFY is implemented within our school systems. Most State Programs introduce Project UNIFY to different school systems to spark interest. Then administrators, principals and teachers get in contacted with their State Program to learn more about Project UNIFY. The administartors, principals and teachers then implement Project UNIFY in their own way. Some schools have Unified Sports Leagues while other schools focus on Project UNIFY Initiatives, like Young Athletes and Spread the Word to End the Word. In case of Rachel Lindman of E.L. Wright Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina, she used Unified Physical Education and sports to implement Project UNIFY. Here’s what she says about Unified Physical Education at E.L. Wright Middle School:
Unified Physical Education is a class designed for students with a firm grasp on basic sports skills who are interested in developing leadership skills and learning to work with special populations. Students enrolled in Unified PE are paired with students with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. As a pair, students develop skills in various sports and finish each unit with a tournament.
Unified PE students at E. L. Wright Middle School have, for the past two years, volunteered and participated in Special Olympics Bowling, Unified Bowling, Special Olympics Basketball and Special Olympics Track and Field events in addition to daily PE class. The class was started during the 2009-2010 school year in response to a need for a
developmentally appropriate PE class for our special education students. During the 2010-2011 school year, I applied for and received a grant from Special Olympics Project UNIFY to purchase equipment for our class. During the semester long course, 7th grade students participate with and act as a peer mentor to students with special needs.
Peer partners participate in lessons from the Special Olympics Get Into It curriculum and participate in programs such as Special Olympics’ “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign and a Disabilities Awareness Week for the school.
As the teacher of this diverse and amazing group of students, it has been a blast watching and facilitating the change in beliefs, the development of social skills (tolerance, acceptance, and patience) and the creation of a new school community. Students in Unified PE, as well as other students in the school community, have gained a new respect for students who are different from themselves. After a semester sharing and learning about themselves and people with disabilities, students in my 7th grade Unified PE
class share their experiences with upcoming 7th graders – showcasing the joys, struggles and growth they have experienced in class through this video.
Rachel Lindman, Health Education Teacher
E.L. Wright Middle School
Columbia, South Carolina
Unified PE students share their experiences from the semester and encourage more students to get involved.