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LPS hosts first Unified Track meet

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 8:00 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Unified Track has been in the works at Lincoln Public Schools for a few years and after COVID-19 stalled it at the starting line, the athletes finally got to compete Wednesday.

Wednesday afternoon marked LPS’s first Unified Track meet, which brings together traditional and special needs students for a lot of fun outside.

The event included athletes from five different LPS high schools.

“It’s not about winning, we are here to be inclusive, we are here to create a space where everybody belongs,” said Brandi Benson, the head coach of Unified Track at Lincoln Southwest High School. “I think that that’s what’s amazing about Unified, there’s nobody that doesn’t belong.”

LPS also participates in Unified Bowling, which means many of the students here are now able to participate in sports year-round.

The meet featured three different events: long jump, the 100-meter dash, and the 4x100.

“I just get a lot of joy and after a long and stressful and busy week this is a great way to refresh and come together with my friends,” said Ella Swank, a 10th grader.

Ella and her partner, Tahlia Scaggs, have been together for the entire year.

“I like the weather and meeting new friends and being able to get out of the house to do more things,” Scaggs said.

Parents at the meet said that Unified Sports give their kids a place to be active, that feels comfortable.

“Now he’s with his peers, he’s with other students in classes and who he sees in the hallway,” said Roger Mundt, whose son Riley is an athlete. “It gives him a sense of ownership and relaxation and the coaches are phenomenal.”

Unified Track is part of the Unified Sports curriculum, which spans the state of Nebraska.

Many of the athletes here will continue on to participate in other local meets this spring, as well as the state competition.

“My partner has been Michael all year and my favorite part is I push him and he can push me just as hard every day when we have practice,” said Carson Snow, a 12th grader.

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