The school is being recognized for its Unified sports programs, but that’s just the start of it
This is an eventful week at East Greenwich High School. On Friday, the school will unveil its National Unified Champion School banner, an honor years in the making. As uplifting as that celebration promises to be, it is only the final event after more than a week of activities at the school meant to highlight the benefits of Unified Sports and inclusion.
Unified sports pair people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. Those with disabilities are the athletes and the others are the partners. East Greenwich has been a Unified school since 2010, with the formation of a Unified Volleyball team. That team has won several state championships (including for the past two years) as well as two national championships. The school also has a Unified Basketball team (state champion winners in 2021) and a fledgling Unified Swim program as well. Cole Middle School has Unified sports as well and was named a National Banner school in 2019.
Here’s the thing about Unified – it’s about far more than the sports. (Full disclaimer here: my son, James, was a Unified athlete at both Cole Middle School and EGHS. He completed high school in 2018, but still wears his Unified shirts with pride.) The vision, and it is exemplified at EGHS, is that the inclusion that starts on the court spills over into every aspect of school life, and beyond.
And that’s what banner celebration organizers Unified Coach Patty Carrosoto, Athletic Director Casie Rhodes, students and others, are looking to showcase with the activities this week.
“Our priority was to be student focused,” said Carosotto, who has coached the Unified Volleyball team since the beginning (taking one year off). Among the items on the schedule is a four-day Bingo “game” including different inclusionary activities for all students, a cornhole competition, signups for the Special Olympics Unified Plunge fundraiser taking place later this month, and faculty vs. Unified volleyball and basketball games.
It is a 4-day event of different inclusionary activities for all students to participate in. Each day a different color with activities that correspond with that color. Students are going to take pictures and post to the unified EGHS account. Whole school inclusion throughout the whole week
While Carosotto’s commitment to the program has been pivotal, she credits the students.
“It’s the commitment of students willing to learn about Unified sports, learn about people with intellectual disabilities. It takes a special person to do that … creating an inclusive environment,” she said. “These kids have worked so hard in creating that sense of community.”
Among other achievements, the EGHS students helped create a sensory path at the school and have been instrumental in staffing a new camp for students with disabilities.
On Friday, various state and Special Olympics dignitaries will be on hand, including Tim Shriver, chair of national Special Olympics. The masters of ceremony for the morning will be Unified team members Matt Carosotto and Oliveia Shaughnessy.
Congratulations, EGHS. Have a terrific week!
Such a wonderful program! Congratulations to ALL who coach(ed), participate(d), spectate(d), and support(ed).