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GHS introduces new sports team focused on winning, promoting positive school culture

Guilderland High School has joined 12 area high schools in participating in “Project UNIFY” – a Special Olympics program that brings students with and without intellectual disabilities together to promote teamwork and a positive school climate.

Through the project, the school has formed a unified basketball team composed of half general education students and half special education students. While practices are currently underway (see pictures in the gallery below), the team is preparing for its season opener against Mohonasen at Shenendehowa High School on Monday, May 5. Their home opener is set for May 8 at 5:30 p.m. against Shen. The six-game season will end with a regional tournament at the Glens Falls Civic Center on May 31.

Unified Sports has a strong emphasis on authentic, competitive play, both during the game and in skills competitions to be held following the game. However, students who play on the school’s varsity or junior varsity basketball teams were not eligible to play in the league. The team is coached by high school special education teachers Colette Gallagher and Kelly Tynan.

“We were honored to be asked to participate in this pilot program,” said Gallagher. “Without Unified Sports, students with intellectual disabilities would never have the opportunity to participate in a school sport.”

While the team is a centerpiece of the program, Project UNIFY also includes a Youth Activation Committee and awareness campaign – all designed to strengthen student leadership efforts and promote inclusion of all kids within the school community. The program is a natural fit for Guilderland, given the Best Buddies and Sports Buddies student groups, and clubs such as Alliance, Students/Teachers Against Racism (STAR), Natural Helpers, and SADD as well as various other activities at the high school that promote a healthy and positive school culture.

“Unified Sports has allowed us all to see that we are much more alike than we are different,” said Gallagher.

“The athletes are not only learning to develop their athletic skills but are laughing, having fun and developing friendships. They are truly a part of the team and very positive with each other both on and off the court,” added Tynan.

Project UNIFY is offered in partnership with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and the New York State Special Olympics. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. 
Learn more about Project UNIFY

Complete schedule of games:

Monday, May 5: vs. Mohonasen @ Shen (4:15 p.m.)

Thursday, May 8: vs. Shen @ Home (5:30 p.m.)

Monday, May 12: vs. Saratoga @ Schenectady (4:15 p.m.)

Thursday, May 15: vs. Ballston Spa @ Home (4:15 p.m.)

Monday, May 19: vs. Mechanicville @ Columbia (5:30 p.m.)

Thursday, May 22: vs. Schenectady @ South Colonie (4:15 p.m.)

 

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  • Unified Sports at GHS
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  • Unified Sports at GHS
  • Unified Sports at GHS
  • Unified Sports at GHS
  • Unified Sports at GHS
  • Unified Sports at GHS