Inclusive Sports allows students with disabilities to be part of a team

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BISMARCK, N.D. - A program in Bismarck Schools gives students with various skill and development levels to try athletics.

Inclusive Sports allows students with disabilities to participate in flag football, bowling and track and field. This is the first year of the program but it is already a big hit at Century, Legacy and Bismarck High Schools.

While it feels good to get a strike, having friends around when you're off your game can feel make a missed shot better.

“Sometimes I go in the gutter, I go in the guts. I actually like to hang out and socialize with other kids, you know, and make new friends,” said Shon Laducer.

“My favorite sport is bowling because I like to bowl and I like to listen to the music they have playing,” said Braden Job, freshman athlete.

The idea for Inclusive Sports came from the Special Olympics program.

“We knew we had a perfect fit for being able to bring activity and sports to all students,” said Scott Nustad, Athletic Director at BHS.

Parents stand around to cheer on their kids. Flag football was no different.

“Some of them aren't even able to carry the ball down, but watching them get out there and it doesn't matter what they hit, it's just the excitement on their face that makes it fun,” said Nathan Fuder, BHS senior.

Several of the inclusive athletes had never been involved in a school club before joining this one.

“It's giving students that after school peer-to-peer interactions that they never had before,” said Sheyenne Schneider, BHS Special Education Specialist.

“At my last high school they kind of kept them all in one area and we didn't get to see them. Coming to BHS and going to Century and Legacy and seeing how everybody is just so open with it and just like 'Oh they're just humans.' I think that's really awesome,” said Jada Davis, sophomore at BHS.

And these friendships create meaningful relationships.

“If they can feel that they belong to a school, to a group, they socially grow, they emotionally grow and often times they academically grow because they are feeling better about themselves,” said Gerry Teevens, Director of Special Education for the Department of Public Instruction.

Inclusive Sports is creating friendships that will never split.

On giving hearts day, Feb. 8, any donation made to the BPS foundation goes to the inclusive sports program.

For more information go to givingheartsday.org.