NYC schools expand partnership with Special Olympics to improve sports accessibility

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Monday, March 27, 2023
NYC schools expand partnership with Special Olympics
NYC public schools are expanding their partnership with the Special Olympics to improve accessibility to sports for students with disabilities. Kemberly Richardson has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The city public schools are expanding their partnership with the Special Olympics of New York to ensure access to sports for students with disabilities at all 75 school districts.

This partnership will allow more than 1,700 students with disabilities to play sports like volleyball, track and field, and basketball during the school day.

There will also be after-school sports leagues for high school and middle school students.

"This administration is committed to breaking down barriers to becoming a healthier city, and playing sports is often how young people start building healthy habits," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

The Special Olympics will contribute $50,000 in funding to help train educators and coaches and buy equipment.

The city will contribute $300,000 in funding towards the program.

Schools Chancellor David Banks made the announcement at the Riverview School in Queens which serves students with disabilities.

Banks introduced members of a new unified Bocce League to students as an example of the teams they can be a part of through the program.

"I think it's exciting and I think inspiring how I get to help kids play the sport," Bocce player Diem Nenadich said.

Part of the program will pair students with and without disabilities on the same sports teams to encourage comradery.

"The opportunity to play on a sports team is a critical part of the full school experience, giving our students the chance to forge friendships, learn to support their teammates, and take on leadership roles," said Schools Chancellor David Banks.

Research conducted by Special Olympics shows that in-school programming has been proven to overturn negative stereotypes and reduce bullying.

"They say hello to people in the hallway that they might not have a month ago and say hello to people they don't know," Riverview School Athletic Director Kevin McElroy said. "It gives them this confidence in their own skin that I didn't see before the program started."

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