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Pioneers Pilot First Unified Sports Basketball Team

Oregon City High School’s FIRST Unified Basketball Team recently played their inaugural games in a tournament hosted by Forest Grove School District. Unified Sports is a new branch of Special Olympics.

With only two practices under their belt, the Pioneer team came together and played fantastic basketball. Players Exhibited team spirit, comradery, sportsmanship, respect and honor for other teams. They had a blast and won all three of their games.

Unified Sports is an excellent way to share a sense of community and promote kindness, respect, and support of one another. It is an inspiring program that brings opportunity to students with varied intellectual abilities. Unified Sports provides players a healthy athletic activity and the pride of being on an athletics team.  

The hope for the program is that it will be a great way to help cultivate strong community unity with the inclusive spirit that represents Unified Sports. The program helps to generate awareness of the diversity within our community, building a foundation of inclusion for all students.

"I am so grateful to Steve Allen and all of the supportive staff at Oregon City School District and Oregon City High School for supporting my son and his idea to start this program," said Josie Rankin-Lary, parent. "Eventually, we hope to see unified sports for soccer, track, and golf."

The two Pioneer Unified Basketball Teams consist of 23 kids, boys and girls ages 14 to 18, to create two teams of Athletes and Partners. Partners are regular education students that come together with unified athletes who are a part of the Special Education program. 

"We appreciate the support from parents, teachers, and administrators who have worked swiftly to bring Unified Sports to our district," said Cyndi Panko, Director of Special Services. "Unified Sports aligns with the department's goals of inclusive practices and fostering independence, and we are proud to support the program." 

While the emphasis is on the kids and their enjoyment it has quickly become evident how much this program benefits parents, staff, and the whole community.