OSWEGO – The acceptance of students of all abilities has made the Oswego City School District’s unified sports program blossom, just one year after it began.
Unified sports for the district began last year with basketball and that has now grown to include bowling.
Overseen by Kyle Brown and coach Kristina Taylor, the unified bowling team has attracted a couple dozen OHS students from all grade levels and abilities.
Brown said the athletes, or students with disabilities, are paired up with general education students to help support, cheer and guide them one-on-one.
Teaching assistants also are on hand to support students who utilize individualized education plans.
While the unified bowling season is short, Brown said much comradery, commitment and fun has been packed into just a few weeks.
Tenth grader Devlin Donovyn said he couldn’t agree more, as he has had a wonderful time with his partner, 11th grader Brooke Crespo.
“Bowling is something that takes a lot of patience to master, but the payoff is amazing,” Donovyn said. “It’s such a good stress reliver; it’s fun.”
Crespo said the experience has been both humbling and rewarding.
“You get to express bonds with people you see in school; more people should do this,” she said. “This isn’t about competition.”
Brown, the youth activation committee leader for the school district, said unified sports is about the connections all students on the teams make.
With bowling, he said, every step from identifying the lane, getting shoes, a bowling ball, how to hold and release the ball, check to see if pins fell and check score are all learned and reviewed.
In between turns at games, there are practice lanes for the athletes and partners to sharpen their skills.
His vision for Oswego High School is to become a unified champion school.
Over the next few years, Brown said he also would like to see the unified program expand to Oswego Middle School.
For now, he and the unified bowling team have enjoyed their season, which ends March 1 with a culmination event with schools throughout Central New York.