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Abilities Week takes center stage at Southeast

Abilities Week takes center stage at Southeast


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


For the second year in a row, Southeast hosted an Abilities Week that expanded to a district-wide event this year and closed with an inclusive basketball game.

The opportunity to showcase Abilities Week across the entire district was led by the coordination of Christina Hemberger, who is a Parent Mentor and Special Education educator at Southeast.

Also helping throughout the week were the Portage DD, Buckeye Residential Solutions and Millers Wheelchair.

“This week wouldn’t have been possible without them, my volunteers, which were a mix of Portage DD staff and parents, NHS students from the high school, high-school students, school staff and my family,” Hemberger said.

Students rotated to six different stations throughout the week during their physical-education periods. It gave the students an opportunity to understand what a person with a disability experiences each day.

As part of the week, members of Southeast’s Student Council made posters to raise awareness, volunteered at the stations during gym class and read disability facts on the morning announcements.

Additionally, teachers showed age-appropriate videos and read books aloud each day, explaining the disability that was highlighted each day.

On the final day of Abilities Week, Adaptive Sports Ohio, an organization which helps people with disabilities play sports, helped organize the inclusive basketball game.

Five teachers from Southeast Intermediate and Primary schools, as well as Superintendent Bob Dunn, signed up to play against the wheelchair basketball athletes.

“The athletes tell a little about their stories before the game, then the game started,” Hemberger said.

The first part of the game featured the Southeast staff vs. the athletes, then the teams were adjusted to include one of the wheelchair athletes with members of the staff.

“The children absolutely loved watching their teachers play,” Hemberger said. “The entire gym started chanting the names of their favorite teacher getting ready to make a basket.”

Warren Craig, a wheelchair athlete who played in last year’s game, told the group that Southeast was his favorite school to play at because “the students are respectful and engaging.”

“As a special needs mom myself, I can see the impact it has on our district and it warms my heart to see how much my son is included and supported as a person with a disability,” Hemberger said. “Almost every student will walk by and greet him with a fist bum, because they know that is how he communicates. I am so proud of the students and how engaged they were all week and it paid off watching their faces during the basketball game.”

At the end of the basketball game, Hemberger said that students from the third and fourth grades rushed over to the wheelchair athletes for autographs.

1 Comment

  1. Shari Lallanilla May 21, 2024

    Acceptance and respect are the most wonderful gifts these events promote, with understanding being the basic tool.. I am very proud of Southeast for supporting this necessary education…


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