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Case Junior High School is a Unified Champion

The Standard Times - 11/13/2019

Nov. 13--SWANSEA -- Joseph Case Junior High School Principal Robert Silveira said staff members at the school are always looking for ways to include as many students as possible in as many activities as possible.

Five years ago, they started a Unified basketball team for students with disabilities and typical students. Case has also started a Unified bocce team.

For those efforts, Case Junior High School was awarded with a Special Olympics Unified Champion School designation this school year. To receive the designation, schools must fulfill three criteria. They need to offer at least two Unified sports, have an inclusive leadership program and an after school peer group. Silveira said not many junior high schools or middle schools have the Champion designation.

"The Unified program has huge benefits," Silveira said. "They learn about respect of others and themselves and about being accepting of all people. It's mutually beneficial. The kids with disabilities want to be included."

Unified Sports is sponsored by Special Olympics. For earning the Champion designation, Case Junior High School received a banner. Silveira said earning the designation also could help the school to get a little bit of grant money for equipment and operation of the Unified programs.

Since Case Junior High started a Unified basketball team, four or five other schools in the Massasoit League also have put together teams. The team is about to start its season with three home games and three away games on the schedule.

The junior high school just had its bocce tournament last week. Bocce courts were made indoors from PVC piping. The students practice playing bocce during the school day and then have a tournament. Silveira said anyone can play bocce, so it is a good sport to get a lot of people involved in. Physical education teacher Julie LaRoche, teacher Timothy Irish, who also is the coach of the running club, and special education teacher Kayla St. Michel coached the Unified bocce program. There were 12 students in that program. Silveira said there will be more students on the Unified basketball program. He said LaRoche coaches the Unified basketball teams at both the junior high school and Joseph Case High School.

"It is a ton of fun," Silveira said of the Unified sports programs.

Silveira said that students with disabilities also participate in the chorus and drama programs at Case Junior High School. The school also has a peer group called Case Cardinals Care that students with disabilities can join. That group works on inclusion for all students, being kind and charitable projects.

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