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CCSD students take part in Special Olympics Youth Summit

Special Olympics Youth SummitStudents and teachers who are involved in unified sports and activities at Cherry Creek, Eaglecrest, Grandview, Overland, and Smoky Hill high schools participated in the Special Olympics Youth Summit, held at the Centura Health Denver Broncos Training Facility on Nov. 3. They were among more than 1,000 students, educators, and parents from 70 high schools across the state who attended the event, which was hosted by the Special Olympics Youth Activation Committee and was focused on inclusive youth leadership.

“We have discussions about what leadership in this area looks like, and different schools are sharing what opportunities are out there and outlining other really exceptional things that are available,” said Greg Critchett, Cherry Creek Schools Asst. Director of Athletics and Activities.

Special Olympics Youth SummitCritchett said unified activities and sports connect students who have intellectual disabilities with “peer partners,” or students who do not have intellectual disabilities.

“Students who are involved in unified programs always say it’s the highlight of their day, and they look forward to doing it,” he said. “For a lot of them, we’re seeing these students making decisions to follow careers that involve people with special needs or disabilities.”

“This is an awesome event,” said Kelton Coppinger, Smoky Hill Unified Coordinator. “It allows all of our kids to get together, not only with their own peers, but with kids from a whole bunch of other high schools. They’re learning about new opportunities within unified sports and activities and Special Olympics. The biggest thing is learning about being leaders within their peer groups.”

Grandview’s Unified Coordinator Jennifier Hasty agreed.

Special Olympics Youth Summit“In the Cherry Creek School District, unified coordinators meet and talk about what we’re doing in these areas,” she said. “Some schools do bowling, some do flag football, we do unified track at Grandview and we’re seeing growth in all these areas.”

Critchett said unified programs benefit students in many ways.

“Anytime we have students involved in sports and activities, we have higher attendance, better grades, and it applies to everyone involved,” he said.

“This is why I do what I do,” Hasty added. “To see the smiles on their faces when we’re done with a game or activity, or when they’ve been cheered on… It’s the best part of anybody’s day.”

Posted 11/8/2023.