The Pomperaug High School (PHS) Unified Sports program was recognized as a Special Olympics Unified Champion School during a special banner presentation during the Homecoming Pep Rally at PHS on Friday, October 25th, 2019.
Participating in the school-wide assembly, National Banner and ESPN Honor Roll presentation were PHS Unified Team members, Stephanie Bregman, Special Education Teacher and Unified Sports Coach, and Barbara Horn and Robert Hale, the coordinator and director of Unified Sport from the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC).
As a Special Olympics National Unified Champion School, PHS has demonstrated a commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 standards developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community. The primary activities within these standards include: Special Olympics Unified Sports® (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole-School Engagement. Banner Unified Champion Schools also demonstrate that their programs are self-sustainable, or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.
Through the Unified Sports program, PHS demonstrated an inclusive school climate that exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff. Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® builds on Special Olympics’ values, principles, practices, experiences and impacts to shape a generation that welcomes everyone.
“Unified Sports unites everyone around the common goal of social inclusion. By involving students with and without disabilities, Unified Sports strives to break down stereotypes, building acceptance and understanding throughout the school and community. Not only is all of this recognition very exciting for our program and school, it just proves that wonderful things will come from positivity, teamwork and perseverance! Thank you to every person that has played or supported PHS Unified, from our first season to our current season, in helping us to achieve this huge accomplishment!” said Coach Bregman.
Pomperaug High School offers three seasons of Unified Sports, Soccer, Basketball and Track and Field and is currently in its 4th year. Over 150 students have participated in the Unified Sports Program so far.
“The impact of Unified Sports goes well beyond the field or court. I am so proud of our school for embracing Unified Sports and making inclusion a part of our community. Coach Bregman’s dedication to and expansion of our Unified program is outstanding - and truly a model for us to all follow,” Ron Plasky, Region 15 Director of Athletics, Health and Physical Education.
The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. With sports as the foundation, Unified Sports offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions. The program, designed to be woven into the fabric of the school, enhances current efforts and by providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners.
"I have been part of Unified Sports since it premiered in our school 4 years ago. It has become a tremendous success, and the support from staff and students is overwhelming. I'm so happy to be a part of it." Gisela Pupillo, Unified and PHS support staff.
"I've done Unified Sports for the past few seasons and it has made an impact on me. The friends and experiences I've had on this team are one of a kind and something I'll never forget." Melissa Perelmuter, PHS senior and Unified player 3rd year
"Unified is fun because we have a dance break during the tournament,” Lexi Milburn, PHS Sophomore and 2nd year Unified Player.
"I was looking forward to trying something new with my class," Adam Skow, PHS Junior and 1st year Unified player.
"Its been great to the tremendous growth of the program in 3 short years. Our tournament this week featured over 100 athletes and partners!" Mike Murphy, PHS teacher and Announcer for Unified Sports.
Information about Unified Sports in CT can be found here.
Link to video from ESPN can be found here.