Pennridge High School, a Special Olympics Unified Champion School, is receiving national banner recognition for its efforts to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities, Special Olympics Pennsylvania announced on Monday.
Pennridge High School is receiving this honor as a result of meeting national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect.
Pennridge High School is the first high school in Bucks County to reach nationally approved status. The Pennridge Unified program consists of two fully inclusive sports teams, bocce and track and field, that compete in the winter and spring. A fully inclusive sports team is one where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates. In 2019 the track and field team placed sixth in the state.
The program also has a year-round self-sustaining club with fully inclusive leadership. The Unified Club held several fundraisers, club meetings, attended a leadership summit, participated in events such as the polar plunge and Unified night at a fall football game.
In addition to the sports teams and club, to be recognized as a nationally approved program, the Unified Program needs engagement from the entire school. At Pennridge, the Unified Club and teams launched campaigns to promote inclusion, held inclusive events like dance parties and other school-wide activities throughout the year.
“Unified Sports has made a tremendous impact on our school and community,” said Dr. David Bolton, Pennridge School District superintendent. “It is more than just running track or playing a competitive game of bocce; it teaches all our students the importance of getting involved and being inclusive of others in all areas of their lives.”
Unified coaches and club advisors Angela James and Christine Fehnel are special education teachers at Pennridge High School. They are passionate about their work on and off the field and have engaged 50 students in either the club or the sports teams.