High school athletics typically bring out the best of students — whether that be to teach teamwork, make friendships, or to learn leadership skills. They can also bring out competitive rivalries, …
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High school athletics typically bring out the best of students — whether that be to teach teamwork, make friendships, or to learn leadership skills. They can also bring out competitive rivalries, where athletes are focused on one thing - winning.
At Trailblazer Stadium in Lakewood, there were no winners, or losers. Instead there were Jefferson County high school and middle school students running around with smiles on their faces, playing soccer and encouraging each other. Some of the students have disabilities like autism. Others have down syndrome, and there were even students who were paralyzed. Disabilities didn't matter though. The students were there to have fun through Jeffco Adapted Athletics.
There were 18 schools and 300 students who participated in soccer day in Jeffco through Jeffco Adapted Athletics, a program that gives Jeffco students with disabilities a chance to learn to play and compete in sports. The program is set up to give students with disabilities a chance to participate in a sports program - something that some disabled students don't have an opportunity to do.
The day was special for Marco Morones, a 10th grader at Alameda International High School in Lakewood. Morones ran up and down the soccer field with determination to score a goal each time he touched the ball. He was at a loss of words when he was asked what the day meant to him.
“Right now, this is really cool. The day has been really special to me, because I like to play soccer all the time,” Morones said.
Kathy Hart, a significant support needs teacher at Alameda International High School, said the Jeffco Adapted Athletics program's impact runs deep for students with disabilities.
“It teaches great social skills, it gets them out in the community, it promotes team work and comradery, and it's great for the students in an athletic sense,” Hart said.
The Jeffco Adapted Athletics program holds a tournament each month that zeroes in on one particular sport. Upcoming sports for the rest of the year include flag football, bowling and volleyball. The program was started in 2007.
“We think it's really important to offer our more challenged students an opportunity to play sports. Jeffco Adapted Athletics really fits into that,” Diana Wilson, executive director of communications for Jeffco Public Schools said. “We know students are involved beyond academics in our schools. They tend to learn better when they are.”
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