General McLane Partners with Special Olympics Pennsylvania to Offer Unified Track and Field program

Posted on March 23, 2015, in Activities, Organizations

General McLane School District is partnering with Special Olympics Pennsylvania to offer a fully-inclusive Interscholastic Unified Track and Field program.

General McLane joins Fairview and McDowell high schools as the only three schools offering this program in Erie.

This co-ed sports program is open to boys and girls with disabilities and without disabilities who train and compete together as teammates representing their high school.

“This program will provide an opportunity for both disabled and non-disabled students to compete and represent their school on an athletic level,” said General McLane special education director Michael Cannata. “It creates an atmosphere that promotes acceptance which in turn will promote that same acceptance in the natural high school environment.”

Unified Track and Field teams practice after school a minimum of two days a week alongside the varsity track and field teams. There will be three Unified Track and Field competitions held during the months of April and May.

During a competition, participants run their races or do their field events in heats alongside fellow participants who are of similar ability levels. Every heat gives its participants the opportunity to score points for their high school team. The high school team with the most number of total points at the end of the competition wins.

This program is made possible through funding by the Special Olympics, which will provide equipment, uniforms and coaching stipend.

General McLane’s goal is to have 20 students participating – 10 students with disabilities and 10 students without disabilities.

“I believe in what this program is truly about,” said Brandon Oathout, who is one of two General McLane coaches for this team. “This program is about bringing all types of students together to be a part of a team, which is an opportunity that some of them haven’t had before. This program promotes friendship, a sense of community and gives all of the students an opportunity to make new friends and find a new hobby that they may enjoy and participate in after high school.”

For more information on Unified Sports, please visit http://www.specialolympicspa.org/special-programs/initiatives/unified-sports.