Special Olympics meet for Portsmouth Public Schools promotes inclusion among students

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - It’s an event designed to help all students in Portsmouth feel included.

The 6th annual Portsmouth Public Schools Special Olympics meet was held Wednesday morning with more than 300 students with disabilities participating in different challenges.

“In school, sometimes we separate students because of the individualized needs they have in the classroom, but in the real world those kids are not separated,” said Lisa Gehring, Program Specialist for the school division’s Office of Special Education. “We want to make sure we’re giving students both with and without disabilities the same experience they’ll get in the real world.”

In this case students with and without disabilities partnered together in athletic events like races, baseball and soccer. Gehring says students started working together six to eight weeks ago.

The event was supposed to be held at the Woodrow Wilson High School football stadium, but was moved into spaces at S.H. Clarke Academy due to rain.

The meet was made up of two events called Young Athletes, with kids ages 2-4 and the Little Feet Meet featuring students from kindergarten to sixth grade.

It’s put on in partnership with Special Olympics Virginia.

Gehring says the smiles on the kids’ faces from this one event inspire her throughout the year.

“That is the reason we come to work every day,” she said.

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