Hello Everyone! Welcome back to DaCunha’s Dispatches.
Although the weather is getting colder, I have a heartwarming story to share about the Fairhaven Unified Basketball Team.
Special Education teacher Ms. Allaire and Phys. Ed. teacher Ms. Stahowiak combined forces to create the Unified Sports Program a few years back, bringing the opportunity for inclusive sports to Fairhaven High. This program has helped the school promote inclusion, empowerment, and camaraderie amongst the athletes and mentors.
The school community, along with town members, came together on Wednesday, 11/1 to support our Unified Basketball team on their Senior Night against Old Rochester Regional High School.
Coach and Program Leader Ms. Allaire reflected on her players’ performance saying, “Everyone played really well, and worked hard. The mentors and athletes have come together to play as a true unified team, and I’m proud of all of them and this amazing season.”
I spoke to several of the Unified athletes who shared what it felt like to play their last game of the season, and for some, their last Unified Basketball game ever.
Senior Maddie Moura reminisced on her Senior Night: “Seeing the community come and support me was exciting and made me want to play my hardest. My teammates and I had a great time and worked well together.”
A top scorer for the Blue Devils this season, Isaiah Benoit, shared that, “Everyone felt included, the fans were amazing, and I miss the seniors already.”
Austin Gooden spoke on the rollercoaster of emotions felt by the players Wednesday night: “I thought last night was fun. I was excited to play, especially because there was a lot of hype around the game. Seeing so many people from school and the community supporting my team made me feel really special.”
It’s true. The smiles that lit up everyone’s face when our home team scored, the high fives shared between our players in between quarters of the game, and the loud cheers of support from the crowd filled the gym with an energy and excitement that makes the Fairhaven Unified Program so special.
Senior mentor Taylor Desmarais stated: “Getting to play on this amazing team has been such an honor. I’m so sad it’s come to an end.”
But, although the Unified Basketball season has finished, the opportunity for inclusivity at Fairhaven continues through the Unified Club and Unified Spring Track Season that is available for all students to participate in.
Within the Unified Club, students from the Special Ed. programs are able to engage in different fun activities such as making paper snowflakes around the winter holidays, and Bingo or Trivia Night with mentoring students of the Fairhaven community.
Similar to the Unified Basketball program, the Unified Track team has allowed for the program to further develop as it gives our Unified athletes the chance to take part in sports for multiple seasons, and build even greater bonds with the student mentors. The team participates in various track competition events ranging from shotput to the 400m.
Overall, the Unified Program has become an asset to the Fairhaven community, bringing us together in a way that celebrates each and every individual’s differences. Although the Bulldogs pulled out a win over the Blue Devils by the skin of their teeth, Ms. Stahowiak noted that, “If you had fun, you won.”
And so, the Blue Devil Unified Athletes have won in our hearts, and have accomplished the greatest victory of all by changing what inclusion means at Fairhaven High forever.
Until next time,
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