The state track meet is special to a lot of people every year, but for the second year in a row, it promises to be a grand time for Hawaii high school special education students.
As it did last year, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association is partnering with Special Olympics Hawaii to incorporate what is called unified 4×400 and 4×100 races into the meet, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Kamehameha. Teams are made up of two special ed students and two general education students from the same school.
It’s part of Project Unify, a school-based Special Olympics program that, according to organizers, “encourages students to promote acceptance and respect for individuals with intellectual disabilities within their school communities. As students work towards sharing the message of respect, it ultimately translates to being kind, respectful and accepting of all people.”
Special Olympics Hawaii has 48 elementary, middle, and high schools involved in Project Unify, with 400 students in the state participating in unified sports.
There will 11 unified relay teams from six schools — Kapaa, Kauai, Hilo, Maui, Farrington and Kaimuki — competing at the state meet.
Special Olympics’ stated mission is “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”
More than 3,700 people with intellectual disabilities participate in Special Olympics
programs in Hawaii.