WAREHAM – With the sun in the sky and temperatures in the 50s, it was a good day for a track meet.
Wareham and Bourne High Schools’ Unified Track and Field Teams took advantage of the spring weather and competed in a series of events directly after school Thursday at the Andersson Track in front of Wareham Middle School.
“We did this last year at Wareham,” said WHS coach and special education teacher Megan Kashner. “Bourne is new to it and we are happy to be doing this today with them.”
Kashner said last year’s season consisted of three regular meets and then onto state competitions.
“We had nine kids qualify last year, and hopefully even more this time,” said the coach.
Based on a model conceived by Special Olympics, the Unified Sports program merges special education students with non-special education students.
Kristyn Alexander of Bourne High School’s adapted physical education department, said the two teams had been discussing holding a unified track meet since the fall. “It’s our first dual meet ever with Wareham. We are new to it, so we have a small team this year,” said Alexander. “But we are hoping for the program to grow.”
Students were enjoying time out of school and out on the track. Devin LaCourse, a post-graduate student who spends much of the day in a wheelchair, used his walker to complete the 100-meter dash.
“Cheer quietly people,” LaCourse urged family and friends lining the course as they urged him on. “I’m focused here.”
Brendan Medeiros, an 11th grader at Wareham High School, found himself most interested in shot put.
“So far, this is my favorite event,” said Medeiros, who was quickly joined by Bourne 9th grader Erica Mann, who unlike many shot-putters, smiled the entire time she was in the circle. “I like shot put, too,” grinned Mann.
Kashner said that the two teams have groups moving through the events together, “so everyone cheers each other on. You travel with your group.”
An unexpected surprise at the event was an $1,100 check for Wareham CORE for an adaptive playground that organizers expect will run about $500,000 from Wareham High School Best Buddies. The money was raised at the annual Easter pancake breakfast at Marc Anthony’s in Onset, which is run by the students and proceeds from the event are given to Best Buddies every year.
“This year, we decided to give the money to CORE to help in the community drive to get an adaptive playground,” said Gwen Miceli, president of WHS Best Buddies, who presented the check to Wareham CORE organizer DaLiza Cardoza.
Cardoza, noting that the students essentially decided to forego their field trip funds with the donation, thanked the students profusely for their generosity.
“That’s a big sacrifice,” she said. “It shows so much generosity.”
Cardoza said that while adaptive playground equipment is expensive, nearly half the cost of the proposed playground is for the ground covering, which is rubberized so it is safe for wheelchairs, walkers and carriages.
“We have been given an estimate that the ground cover will run us about $200,000,” she said. “But it is an essential part of an adaptive playground. So we are grateful that the community is behind us on this.”
The Lopes Playground Rebuild is being spearheaded by a group of citizens who created the nonprofit Wareham Community Outdoor Recreation Project (CORE) with a goal towards providing safe, fun, all-inclusive playgrounds and areas for all ages.
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