Disabilities faded to the background as respect and inclusion took center stage at the third annual Bay Area Games on Tuesday at Acalanes High School. Things got underway with a historic start when students with and without disabilities raced on the same team in the Bay Area’s first-ever Unified track races. After a spirited Opening Ceremonies and the Unified track contests kicked off the Games, more than 550 special education students from across the Bay Area – along with 175 non-disabled student volunteers and unified peer partners – participated in the invitational track & field competition hosted by Special Olympics Northern California as part of its Schools Partnership Program.
“This was our biggest and best Bay Area Games to date,” CEO and President of Special Olympics Northern California Rick Collett said. “Today’s event and our Schools Partnership Program aren’t just about sports. They’re about training and educating for life through sports. We’re bringing general education students, parents, friends together with a common cause – to celebrate our wonderful special education student-athletes.”
The invitational event was open to qualified classes currently participating in Special Olympics Northern California’s Schools Partnership Program. The 550 special education student-athletes – who range in age from kindergarten to high school/transition – trained for weeks as part of the Special Olympics Schools Partnership Program. The Schools Partnership Program provides 24 weeks of training in three sports – soccer, basketball and track and field – to over 4,600 special education students. Every student-athlete earned recognition for their achievements by having a Special Olympics Bay Area Games medal draped around their necks by Bay Area law enforcement. The event was made possible by a generous grant from Chevron.