RIDGEFIELD – Ridgefield High School recently hosted its first Special Olympics Unified Basketball Team. In unified sports, people with and without intellectual disabilities play together on the same team, promoting social inclusion and mutual respect.
The Ridgefield High School Special Olympics Unified basketball team competed for the first time against Evergreen High School on Jan. 21. The game was held at La Center Middle School.
The Ridgefield team includes four special education student athletes and four general education students. Head Coach Ahlesha Fitzgerald explained that the general education students help the special education students with fundamentals of the sport while they’re on the court. Fitzgerald and assistant coach Christy Nord provide oversight and guidance for the entire team during practices and at games.
Young people with disabilities often don’t have the opportunity to participate in school sports. But Unified Sports are changing that. More than 1.6 million people compete in more than 30 different Unified Sports worldwide, breaking stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities. Training and playing together serves as a path to friendship and greater understanding.