Champions Together brings friendly competition to Carroll’s Special Ed students

By Isabelle Beezley, Editor-in-Chief

 Dan Ginder

Athletic Director Dan Ginder displays the “White Out” t-shirt that will be for sale in order to raise funds for Special Olympics Indiana through the Champions Together program.

 

   This year, Carroll High School will officially become a banner school for Champions Together, a program which aims to empower Special Education students through sports programs.

   Champions Together was created through a partnership between the Indiana High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics Indiana in 2012. The program hopes to offer leadership opportunities to General Education students, improve a sense of whole school engagement between Special and General Education students, and also provide funding for Special Olympics Indiana.

   Carroll High School is now offering Special Education students and General Education students the opportunity to participate in basketball and track programs that include Special Education competitors. Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Dan Ginder said he wanted Carroll to become involved in the program in order to provide activities for the Special Education department to enjoy.

“A couple years ago [Champions Together] really caught my attention as something Carroll High School should be doing,” Ginder said. “I think we do programs for so many different kids in so many different ways, whether it’s athletics or the arts or performance or speech and debate, there’s so many different things kids can get involved with here, which is awesome. [Extracurricular activities] were an area that I don’t think we were serving the needs of [Special Education] kids like we could.”

   As part of the requirements to become a Champions Together banner school, Carroll must raise $1,500 in donations for Special Olympics Indiana. To achieve this goal, Carroll will be selling “White Out” t-shirts in the cafeteria during lunch for $5 each. Ginder does not believe the fundraising will be difficult for Carroll, and he hopes Carroll will raise even more for the program.

   “Our goal is to raise $1,500, because to be a Champions school that’s sort of the benchmark,” Ginder said. “Our initial goal is $1,500, but we think we can surpass that cause we’ve been able to gather some sponsorships that defray the cost of the shirts.”

   North Side High School hosted the first in a series of three games for the Champions Together basketball competition on February 9. Ginder said he thought the game was a smashing success for all involved, and also provided a sense of accomplishment for the Special Education students.

   “[The game] was everything we expected and more, I don’t think I could put into words how successful that was,” Ginder said. “After the game [Northside High School] gave the kids cookies and a drink and a metal for participating…several of the kids were wearing their metals to school and they were proud of it. They walked those halls the day after a little bit differently. They had a different pride in themselves.”

   Ginder emphasized that the program was beneficial not just for Special Education students, but for General Education students as well, by providing them with the opportunity to connect and offer support to a new group of people.

   “I think it can change the hearts and minds of the General Ed students on looking out for somebody besides themselves,” Ginder said.

Ginder said the Champions Together games do not have a competitive atmosphere, but rather offer a sense of community between two worlds normally separated by classroom walls.

   “Everybody left winners that day, whether they competed on the court or they were just able to watch it,” Ginder said. “Everybody left winners that night.”

   There will be two more games in the basketball circuit of Champions Together with Carroll’s team. The first will be against Homestead High School Friday, February 19 at 6 p.m. The following game with take place on February 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Carroll High School.