Inclusion at Longsjo Middle School
Emma Bourbeau, is a Unified partner with the Montachusett Area Special Sports (MASS) Blockbusters volleyball team. Along with her mom, Emma has gotten to know the local athletes while playing alongside them with the Blockbusters. While on Instagram, she read about the Unified program at nearby Fitchburg High School and wanted something similar for her classmates at Longsjo Middle School.
Fortunate for her, United Way Youth Venture offers an extended learning time at her school, providing students the opportunity to create projects to improve their community. Projects are then chosen to receive funding from the United Way. Bourbeau shared her excitement about Special Olympics with two of her friends and they created a plan for an inclusive sports program for all students.
The three girls presented their idea to representatives from United Way Youth Venture, the school principal, district special education director and PE teacher/faculty adviser. Their project, titled “Inclusion Illusion,” was selected for funding and has now been happening for a few weeks. They received $500 for equipment. It involves two special education classes and five partners. The class has so far done a unit on basketball and is beginning a unit on volleyball.
“The reactions of all the students involved has been very positive and everyone looks forward to these days,” Emma said.
Emma’s mom Meghan shared that it has had a very positive response from teachers as well.
“One of the teachers, wrote a nice letter about how rewarding it has been for her students, they look forward to these days. Some of these students will come in and be like is it a basketball day, is it an Emma day?” she shared.
Her mom explained that this is very student driven with the ideas coming from Emma and her friends. Their faculty advisor, PE teacher Hannah Capone also has experience as a Unified partner for soccer.
Emma loves working with the athletes and hopes the program will continue to grow. She also plans to continue working with the MASS Blockbusters for years to come.