Both special and general education students competed side by side at the Unified Track Sports event at Tam on April 18. The event was the latest of multiple unified basketball games and track meets held this year at Tam and other schools in Marin County.
“Our program combines general ed students with special ed students and they partner up…primarily for the special ed students to have a real sports experience,” special education teacher Michael Lovejoy said. “So [our students] train weeks to run track or play basketball and then we compete against other schools.”
Tam held the first unified sports program in the district four years ago, and now there are seven high schools that compete across Marin. Athletes, students, parents, and teachers have come out to show their support for the team.
“I think it’s a really good bridge between the general ed and special ed students,” said junior Ethan Swergold, a two-year participant in the program. “It’s a common love of sports and I think it’s really great when people come out and watch and cheer our teams on.”
Mr. Lovejoy stressed the value of these competitions to the special educations students as well as the community as a whole. “What I’ve seen is our students come back with confidence and they come back knowing more people…they’ll walk different the next couple of days, like walking on a cloud, with their shoulders higher,” he said. “[The effect of these events] go on for days and months and weeks and years… somebody might be inspired to work in a classroom, somebody might be inspired to just say hi and say ‘Hey, I saw you run a great race.’ It builds confidence in our students and it builds a stronger community.”