By Emily Berthiaume, Clear Creek High School senior and editor-in-chief for the school newspaper
More than 1,000 students, staff members and volunteers from every school in the Clear Creek Independent School District recently gathered at Walter Hall Park in League City to host the annual Adapted PE Park Day.
For more than 30 years, this event has offered CCISD students with disabilities a field day full of activities accessible to students with all ability levels and physical limitations. Nearly 300 Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL) students from every high school set up and operated booths, while students in the high school Best Buddies program were paired one-on-one with a student with disabilities for the duration of the day. The Clear Creek High School PALS ran the soccer, golf, bowling and football booths, each one designed especially for students with disabilities.
“It was really rewarding to see how excited the students got when they were able to participate in activities like the soccer game,” said CCHS senior and PALS member Carolina Sarria. “We even had some who were in wheelchairs and were able to make a goal, which just added to their happiness.”
Other booths included face painting, inflatable bounce houses and snow cones. A fun run for each grade level gave every student a chance to earn a medal and participate in an active event.
“My favorite part of the day is always the end portion when the students, Best Buddies and PALS get together to dance because it’s nice seeing all schools collaborate together,” said CCHS Best Buddies Chapter President and senior Lisa Nhan. “There’s that expression ‘dance like nobody’s watching’, which is what ends up happening because everyone there is focused on having fun and accepting each other. No one is judging anyone for how they’re expressing themselves.”
Adapted PE Park Day is unique in that it celebrates the differences and abilities in all students, which can be a confidence booster for those who might not be able to participate in a regular school field day. Best Buddies and PALS give students the opportunity to create relationships with their peers who they might not have been able to meet otherwise.
“The program has taught me about how it’s so much more important to let our differences bring us together rather than create boundaries,” said Nhan. “At the end of the day, programs like Best Buddies and PALS are about being a better person, and Adapted PE Park Day is just one example of the wonderful ways the programs get us involved.”
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