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Game Unifies Special Athletes For A Night

Metamora, Limestone Play Unified Game

METAMORA, Ill. - It looked like a typical basketball game and sounded like a typical basketball game.

But it was special.

"I've been waiting for this all my life," said Metamora senior Daniel Meyer.

Meyer and other special needs students were playing in Metamora High School's first ever Unified Basketball game.

Special needs students from Limestone and Metamora, paired with peer partners from their general student bodies, played basketball on a stage they don't often see. The main floor of the high school, complete with cheerleaders, a public address announcer and bleachers packed with fans.

"The kids love playing in front of a packed gym, hearing their name announced, being able to have
everyone cheer for them, said Stacey Seals, a Unified physical education teach at Limestone. "It's a great experience for the kids that don't otherwise get that opportunity.

Limestone has a Unified PE class, where special needs students paired are paired with student buddies in class. Metamora hopes to start one.

"It looks very similar to a PE class where they play different sports and games," said Metamora's director of student service Jennifer Jewel. "But it's really an opportunity for them to be proud of the skills and abilities they have.

The teams played two ten-minute halves around a brief halftime.

"We're really trying to figure out how to expand it to different area to meet the needs of these kids
because they are unique like everyone else," Jewel said.
And like the other student-athletes in their schools, the Unified players enjoyed their night in the spotlight. Even if it was just for one, magical night.

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