In April, May and June, hundreds of school-age athletes participate in Little Feet Meets, Meet in the Middle events and Big Feet Meets across Virginia. These Project UNIFY® events are a way for schools to engage students with and without intellectual disabilities during a training season and culminating “Feet Meet.” Students without disabilities can practice and compete with their team, as well as act as meet facilitators and fans.
And all of these “feet” are helping us make big strides in building more inclusive school communities.
“The Little Feet Meet has been a huge blessing for my daughter and me,” said Monica Balduf, whose daughter Sarah, pictured to the right reaching out to Chesterfield County School Resource Officer Daniels, is a first-grader at Ecoff Elementary School. “Sarah loves the games and having fun with friends. I enjoy it because it gives me hope in her future and in other students. I see typical developing students choose to be a part of something bigger than them and out of the norm. They help students with different abilities feel success and pride in accomplishing something. As a mom, all I want is for my daughter to participate and be accepted. Events like the Little Feet Meet helps teach others to not only include my daughter, but have fun participating with her.”
In addition to school-age feet, law enforcement officers like Officer Daniels from departments across the Commonwealth assisted with the Meets, helping carry the Flame of Hope much like they do each June leading up to our largest event, Summer Games, June 12-13 in Richmond. To find out when the Flame will be traveling near you, visit the Torch Run Routes page at www.torchrunva.com.
This year, we added 7 new Little Feets Meets to the already existing 13; 1 new Meet in the Middle to one other existing middle school program; we had 4 Big Feet Meets; and 3 new school systems signed on to implement the Young Athletes inclusive curriculum, which is already active in 2 school systems. Want to find out more about our school-based programs? Visit our resources page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.