New Jersey high school's sports program welcomes students with disabilities

WAYNE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A high school basketball team in New Jersey is breaking down barriers by pairing kids with disabilities alongside those without.

The Wayne High School basketball program welcomes all kids as a part of the school's unified sports program.

A grant from Special Olympics New Jersey helps to pay for the coaches, who are now taking the unified team through drills as they prepare for their first big game.

For the students with special needs, hard work and teamwork with their fellow students are the keys to success.

"We're working on passing, shooting and free-throw shooting," one of the players said.

The unified team has only had two practices but they will have four more before they play in a real game on January 29.

One player said she had never played basketball as a part of a team, only with friends.

Parents are on board -- watching their kids get a chance to show their skills.

"It takes a lot of heart, a lot of patience and you can tell by just watching them how much they love it," Cindy Ramirez said.
There are going to be some rules that must be followed.

"We have students with and without disabilities so it's going to be a 3-to-2 ratio either way," Assistant Principal David Drozjock said.

Assistant Director of Special Services Jennifer Varano said they knew there was a need to start and increase more opportunities for all students.

The program brings kids with special needs and those without much closer.

"They expect you to support them, and when you support them they have the biggest smile on their face," senior Anthony DePalma said. "That's what means the most to me."

Senior Arden Lembryk said making the friendships with the kids is important because they rely on her.

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