BY: USA GAMES CORRESPONDENT, MIKE GASTINEAU
If you work at a high school and you’re interested in growing or improving the programs within your school that are geared towards helping kids with intellectual disabilities, you would be well advised to take a look at what’s happening at Lee-Davis High School in Mechanicsville, Virginia.
Sara Salvato is one of the teachers in the school’s Functional Academics program. The program is designed to reach the 21 students enrolled at Lee-Davis who have intellectual disabilities or autism. According to Salvato, the buy-in level among everyone at the school when it comes to the idea of inclusion is remarkable.
“It speaks to the character of our school, of the staff and the students, that they want their peers all to be included,” Salvato said. “They don’t want to see them sitting on the sidelines at sports events. They don’t want to see them sitting alone in their classes. They want them to have the same opportunities they have.”
Examples are literally everywhere you look. Lee-Davis has a Champions Together program that partners varsity track athletes with track athletes who compete in Special Olympics. The two teams will occasionally practice together. Lee-Davis HS has an all-star basketball team for students with intellectual disabilities and that team is sponsored by the school’s varsity girls’ basketball program. The school’s cheerleaders sponsor a similar squad comprised of students with intellectual disabilities.