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Unified Showing enters third season, looks for participants

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Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 4:05 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Unified activities continue to gain popularity in Lincoln. These are sports or hobbies that pair a person with mental or physical disabilities with a partner to compete.

Right now, an agriculture option known as Unified Showing is taking applicants, for the summer livestock season.

The program is entering its third year. It’s grown tremendously from three pairs its first year, to 10 in its second. Now, it’s expanded to more counties and all of the fun is free.

The program was started by Allison Walbrecht in a barn in southwest Lincoln. The program is run by her with help from her mom. It starts with creating pairs of participants and teaching them how to show lambs.

“Participants come once a week, work with their lamb and their buddy,” Walbrecht said. “Wit ha lamb we provide for them. We build showmanship skills as well as animal husbandry skills.”

The model mirrors other popular programs, mainly based out of Lincoln high schools. Like Unified Track and Bowling, which pairs kids and teens with and without special needs to compete at meets and at state competitions. This one swaps out meets with other high schools, for places like county fairs.

“Giving them an experience that they aren’t always able to have is something you can’t put a price tag on,” Walbrecht said.

Walbrecht said it’s been tremendously rewarding to do and that it’s never about how well the shows go but seeing the process and bonds that pairs create. Often those who are involved on both sides of unified activities, compete in multiple sports.

“We’ve really loved being able to see our pairs that started in the first year together go into the second year, and really excited to see our third year and see how much they continue to improve,” Walbrecht said.

The program has expanded as well. It started in Lancaster County and added Otoe, and this year it’s moved into Gage.

“As we expanded into Gage County we’ve gotten a lot of interest out of them as well, as the bases that we’re already in and were really excited to learn about who all wants to be a part of it,” Walbrecht said.

Applications will be accepted from Jan. 1 to March 13, 2022. For more information about the club or to request an application form, contact Allison via the Unified Showing Facebook group or email amnwalbrecht@gmail.com.

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