My daughter Arizona has minimal experience participating in team athletics but expressed an interest in various sports: soccer and volleyball, to name a few.
When she started middle school this past Fall, we learned of an after school program called Prime Time Sports located on campus and engaging students in myriad activities. Initially, I discounted this offering as an option for us: Arizona would require too much assistance, a 1:1 aide and special guidance to participate in any after school program that required following directions, staying with a group and focusing on specific activities. **The aide we currently have (through a private agency but funded by LAUSD) can only be with her during school instruction and her hours are maxed out, accordingly.
All of that to say, I decided to have a conversation with the staff. Would there be a way for Arizona to “try” the program – maybe an hour after school, one day a week?
Turns out, I was presented with even more exciting news! I was told there would be a special athletic league, geared toward students with special needs – an inclusion soccer team that would consist of “player coaches” (neuro-typical students) and kids who needed help (like Arizona). This would take place on Wednesdays after school for a few weeks, including games against 2 other inclusion teams in the area and culminating in a championship day with a tournament, medals and recognition. I was IN! (And more importantly – so was Arizona).
Fast forward to February 2020 and we just wrapped up the season with a festive championship celebration! Arizona felt proud and excited that she got a “little medal.” Thank you, Prime Time Sports, for creating a platform for kids with all abilities to participate on a sports team.
Inclusion MATTERS — and here’s why:
*Integration into community!
*Development of a sense of belonging!
*Preparation for life – and real life, with all of its diversity and flavor!
*Provides ALL people with opportunities to develop friendships with each other!
I would love to hear the ways in which you are able to practice inclusion in your own lives. What are the specific programs you’ve joined / found helpful and what has been your experience? Thank you for sharing!
(A Joyful DAY!)
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