2022 Unified Basketball Game at RCHS
By Patte Smith; photos courtesy of Kira Zizzo.
Enthusiasm, camaraderie, happiness and unification overwhelmed the Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) gym as the RCHS Unified basketball team took to the court Thursday, February 17. The high school gym was energized as the entire student body was up and roaring while the band played and the cheerleaders sprang into action before a packed audience.
Sanctioned by Special Olympics Colorado and partnering with the Douglas County School District, Unified Sports connects people with and without intellectual disabilities for sporting events. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
Smiling and happy, the Unified team ran or rolled in their wheelchairs up and down the court scoring point after point while their opponent, the RCHS counselors, tried to catch up. No way – the Unified team won hands down. The crowd of parents, students, teachers, staff and fans laughed and cheered, some even teared up noticing the sheer joy on the athletes’ faces. It was a sight to behold.
“Being a fan and watching the team means a lot to me,” stated a mother whose son was part of the Unified team in prior years. “My son passed away a few years ago,” she said. “I continue to support these kids and the remarkable staff that make this a reality for them.”
Inclusion is important. The Unified Sports program at RCHS plays a significant role in ensuring that all students socialize and learn together. It is a win-win for everyone – breaking down stereotypes, modeling acceptance and changing perceptions. A disability does not define a person.