Palmer students receive national Special Olympics grant

Students with and without disabilities at Palmer High School will soon be cooking and learning about nutrition together, thanks to a Special Olympics International Youth Innovation Grant.

Nineteen student-led inclusion initiatives in communities across the United States, including Palmer High School, are the inaugural recipients of the grants. Funding from the grant aims to advance a broad range of inclusion initiatives in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools.

Chelsea Lopes and Maygen James, two student leaders from Palmer High School, proposed their idea for a Unified Cooking class, to be taught by Palmer teacher Paul Holloway, and have been awarded $2,500 to develop the class.

“The Unified Cooking/Sports Nutrition Class that Mr. Holloway will be teaching will teach regular and special education students to work together, discover each other’s positive characteristics as well as learn how to work as a team while working in a kitchen setting,” Maygen wrote. “We will learn about foods, health, nutrition and how to cook.”

They are the only students in the state to receive this grant. Other recipients are from Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Washington State, and Wyoming. The funded projects will help to both strengthen and create more Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® — schools that combine Special Olympics Unified Sports®, inclusive youth leadership and whole school engagement, to create school and community climates of acceptance and inclusion.

Palmer High School was also recently named a National Banner School meaning they are in the top tier of Unified Champion Schools, and exceed the standards of inclusive excellence set forth by Special Olympics International. Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® is funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education.

“After working with younger students at Special Olympics,  I really wanted to be a part of a new tradition at Palmer High School! I wanted to be one of the first students to really help and make a difference with having both Special Education and regular education students in the same class!” said Chelsea.

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