Washburn Rural High School’s Unified Sports program has made a significant impact on the lives of students with disabilities, and the students without observable disabilities who have competed alongside them, since its founding in 1994. Now, one of the sponsors of the program will receive an award in recognition of the program’s success.
Kak Eli-Schneider, a transition educator at Washburn Rural and a sponsor of Unified Sports since its founding at Rural in 2014, has been named one of three 2020 Phillips 66 ‘Live To The Full’ Heroes. She will be recognized at halftime of one of the semifinal games at the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center in Kansas City and will receive a check for $6,600 to go towards the program.
Eli-Schneider helped a group of students start and grow the Unified Sports program, which pairs students with disabilities with volunteer coaches and students. They compete in basketball, bocce ball, and soccer against other Unified teams in conjunction with Special Olympics of Kansas. Over 75 students with disabilities are part of the program, which was recognized in 2019 as one of the 34 best in the nation by ESPN, who named Washburn Rural an Honor Roll Champion School.
“The value in putting people with disabilities alongside their peers who aren’t identified with a disability is that it pushes them to the next level,” Eli-Schneider told WIBW’s Dan Lucero. “When you put kids on the court together, making a team, the kids who aren’t identified with a disability learn patience, kindness, love, and understanding, and it resonates throughout their life.”
Click the link below to hear our conversation with Kak Eli-Schneider, in which she talks about how the Unified Sports program came to be, the impact it has had on the culture at Washburn Rural and the lives of those involved, how much more inclusive and competitive the students become, and much more.
Kak Eli-Schneider – Phillips 66 ‘Live to the Full’ Hero