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March is National Disabilities Awareness Month Highlighting DPSCD’s Special Olympics Championship and Program Expansion

In recognition of National Disabilities Awareness Month in March and led by the Office of Exceptional Student Education (ESE), Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) continues to demonstrate its strong leadership position in providing equitable opportunities for all students.

For the first time ever, three DPSCD Special Olympics co-ed basketball teams (two from Drew Transition Center and one from Diann Banks) earned the opportunity to compete for a state championship in the 16 and older category this Friday, March 17, 2023, in Grand Rapids, MI. And, thanks to a partnership between ESE and DPSCD’s Athletics department, the Unified League was created this school year (SY 22-23), enabling students with or without an intellectual or developmental disability to participate and play competitive basketball.

“The goal of the program is to have sports foster relationships on and off the court,” said Sarah Jardine, Supervisor of Adapted Physical Education and Special Olympics, one of the programs provided by DPSCD’s ESE team. The first season of PSL Special Olympics Unified Basketball was a resounding success, concluding with the first ever PSL Unified League championship game in February as part of a day of PSL Championship basketball for girls and boys varsity teams.

“The inception of the Unified League supports DPSCD’s initiative to ensure that all students are included,” said Jardine, noting that Unified League teams can be co-ed. Cody defeated Central to become the first ever champions of DPSCD PSL Special Olympics Unified Basketball, in a game that symbolized far more than the final score. “We hope it is the beginning of more sports like this to come.”

In the spring, DPSCD will host the Special Olympics Southeast Michigan Regional competition on May 6, 2023, to be held at East English Village Preparatory Academy (EEVP) at Finney. Teams from around the region will go to EEVP at Finney for a competition that includes swimming, track and field as well as volleyball and bocce. All DPSCD students with an intellectual disability or autism are eligible to participate. To register, please send an email to Registration is expected to close on March 24.

In addition to the Special Olympics, DPSCD’s Office of Exceptional Student Education provides other programs to all learners outside of the typical learning environment and those that may require differing learning styles to meet their full potential. They include:

For more information on how your exceptional education student can benefit from DPSCD’s array of ESE programming options, please click here. DPSCD, the Future is Rising!