Special Olympics athletes and peer partners create bonds that extend beyond the fieldOct 06, 2022 11:16AM ● By Becky Ginos
It was a great day as students of all abilities paraded onto the field at the Legacy Events Center to play in a Unified Sports Soccer Tournament Sept. 22. The program brings together Special Olympics Utah athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) on teams for training and competition.
The Davis School District and the Davis Education Foundation partnered with First Lady Abby Cox a year ago for her “Show Up” initiative that included expanding the Unified Sports Program in schools around the state.
“This is the best part of my day, my week, my month,” said Davis School District Superintendent Dr. Dan Linford. “It’s a great program. As we know we’re paying teachers to teach the standard curriculum but we know that extracurricular things like sports give critical life skills. You can’t teach that in the classroom. I thank the coaches, the athletes and the peer students.”
Smart Rain, a smart irrigation technology company donated $20,000 through its Smart Rain for Smart Kids program to make the tournament possible. “We thank Smart Rain for their donation,” said Linford. “It helped pay for uniforms. We love you.”
“We’re tickled to be here,” Smart Rain Foundation Director Julie Larsen said. “It makes my heart happy to know this money will go to benefit the kids with buses, referees and uniforms. We’re more than happy to do that.”
Smart Rain is not only committed to an environmentally green school ground, she said, “but also to the integration and success of every student, regardless of their ability.”
Larsen said Smart Rain will provide smart controllers to any schools. “Smart Rain loves kids and schools. We want to help with the environment and schools as well. It takes a village.”
“This program has been extremely successful in building friendships and fostering inclusion for all students involved,” said Executive Director of the Davis Education Foundation, Jodi Lunt. “Not only do they cheer each other on when competing, they also create bonds that extend beyond the field. The joy and excitement from the players, parents and everyone who watches at these tournaments is like nothing else I’ve seen – it’s truly amazing.” λ