Inclusive play: MV students participate in Unified Champions field days


Pool noodles were used as javelins in one of several athletic events at a recent Unified Champions field day in Fortville.

Submitted photo

FORTVILLE — Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation celebrated three Unified Champions field days in May with preschool, elementary, middle and high school students participating in the fun.

Unified Champions is a Special Olympics program that engages schools in creating climates of inclusion, acceptance, respect and human dignity for all students, according to a press release from the school corporation.

Students with and without disabilities competed on the same teams to provide an inclusive environment where every student participates regardless of athletic, intellectual, ambulatory or functional abilities.

The three elementary schools hosted one Unified Champion event with many students from each elementary building. The students from the three schools were combined into mixed groups in an effort to meet new friends. The students started the day with the National Anthem and a walk around the Mt. Vernon High School track. The elementary students rotated through various activities that were located in the middle of the track, such as jumping over mini hurdles, running relay races, throwing javelins (pool noodles), and long jumping.

Mt. Vernon Middle School and Mt. Vernon High School also hosted a Unified Champion event with lunch at the high school track. Their event consisted of similar activities as the elementary school event and students enjoyed the sunshine while they supported each other and cheered on their peers. The champions rotated through various activities including running baton races, discus throwing, jumping over mini hurdles, running relay races and a fan favorite of throwing a ball to send a peer or teacher plunging into the dunk tank. Students also drew Unified Champions pictures with sidewalk chalk and played with bubbles.

 Mt. Vernon students from elementary schools participated in a Unified Champions field day in May. Submitted photo

The middle and high school event ended by awarding the Andrew Mize Unified Champions Participant of the Year Award to Seth Eads. This annual award is in honor of a Mt. Vernon student, Andrew Mize, who died unexpectedly in 2018.

The Mini-Marauder Preschool also hosted a Unified Champions field day at the middle school track. Smiles were all around the activity stations, including tossing tennis balls into a crate, running relay races, jumping over mini hurdles, kicking balls into a soccer net, balancing on a colorful beam, racing tricycles and more. Students in the Mt. Vernon Middle School Marauder Movement led the activities at each of the stations. The Mini-Marauders practiced teamwork and patience while having a lot of fun in the sun.