Bean bag toss brings together Alberta students with different abilities

They are focusing on what makes them similar.

A student at Bert Church High School in Airdrie AB, participates in the Unified Sports program on Thursday. Justin Pennell CBC

By David Bell with Justin Pennell, CBC News March 16, 2017

Sometimes a bean bag toss can have a deeper meaning.

Students at four southern Alberta schools, with and without intellectual disabilities, came together in the spirit of competition and inclusiveness but more importantly, to make connections.

“It is to get the students working together,” Shanna Kurylo told CBC News Thursday.

“To look for common ground between one another so that they are focusing on what makes them similar, and how they can become friends based on their similarities, rather than separating themselves based on their differences.”

Organizer Shanna Kurylo says the program, in its second year, can give students with disabilities the courage to pursue sports beyond school. Justin Pennell CBC

Kurylo is the Unified Sports program co-ordinator with Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association, in partnership with Special Olympics Alberta.

Ian Ferguson, a physical education teacher at Bert Church High School in Airdrie AB, one of the schools participating, says he’s seen connections made first hand from the program.

Physical education teacher Ian Ferguson says he has seen connections made firsthand. Justin Pennell CBC

“I think it is a great way to have kids get to know one another who may not necessarily run in the same circles,” Ferguson said.

“In any high school you have groups that end up hanging out together more and any chance you have to increase the connectivity in your building is a fantastic one.”

A student at Bert Church High School in Airdrie AB, participates in the Unified Sports program on Thursday. Justin Pennell CBC

For Kurylo, it’s about helping students with disabilities become more comfortable with pursuing sports outside of school.

“It is especially important for the athletes because they are building these relationships within their schools and with their peers and then they are more likely to go on after school and continue participating in sport and get more involved in their communities.”

Source CBC News

2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games Opening Ceremonies

Coverage begins Saturday, March 18 at 2pm ET/11am on TSN2 with the Opening Ceremony along with highlights and recaps throughout the week.

Follow TSN for broadcast details in addition to highlights featuring Canada’s athletes.

Unified Sport Bean Bag Toss Tournament

Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It is inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. This program is made available in Alberta through the partnership between Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association and Special Olympics Alberta. On March 16, Bert Church High School is hosting the first tournament of its kind, a Unified Sport Bag Toss Tournament.

The Special Olympics Unified Sports tournament will have 66 students dedicating a full day of competition where teams take turns throwing bean bags at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. High schools taking part in the tournament will be Bert Church High School, Cochrane High School, W.H. Croxford High School and Chestermere High School.

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