Uniting Special Ed and General Ed students Through Sports

As part of our Teacher Appreciation Week series, Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Jean Czarkowski, School Counselor at Alan B. Shepard Elementary School in Old Bridge, NJ, who describes how the “Play Unified” program at her school helps general education and special needs students bond over sports and games. She also discusses the impact school counselors have on all aspects of school districts.

5/7/18 #2139







"Welcome to One on One. I'm Steve Adubato. It is my pleasure to welcome, all the way from... where? Old Bridge. Old Bridge, beautiful... Exit... I think it's Exit 116? We'll try it later. [laughter] I'm a Parkway person. Jean Czarkowski, School Counsellor, Alan B. Shepard Elementary School in Old Bridge, New Jersey. Isn't it terrible? Like, you know things off the Turnpike, the Parkway Exits? [laughter] But Old Bridge is a fascinating community, and you are a counsellor there involved in a program, we're gonna see in a little bit, a video from Classroom Close-up, that series, it's called Play Unified, which is? Play Unified is a program where we bring students in the gen ed population together with students in the special ed population together to socialize to play, and to become friends and to build relationships. Is it connected to Special Olympics? It is, it was started by Special Olympics, and we have Play Unified both in our high school and in our elementary schools, and there's three different modalities that… What does that mean? Modalities? Well, like purposes for Play Unified. Sure. The one purpose for it is to simply just build relationships and have recreational fun together. Another purpose for Play Unified is to build skills for students that might become... Sure. ...athletes in the Special Olympics, and then the third modality would be to have competitive sports and competitive teams and competitive play building, you know, team building activities, and actually doing various sports, but having competitive play. Can we check out Classroom Close-up? Absolutely. From our partners and our friends and the New Jersey Education Association. This is a clip from... by the way, you've been on how many times? I've been on three different times, but our school's been on... our district's been in Classroom Close-up for about five different episodes. By the way, go ahead and check out Classroom Close-up on NJTV, they're on every week. It's a great show, but this is from Classroom Close-up, it's an initiative called Play Unified. Let's check it out. [music playing] This is a real game. This is not a practice okay? Oh. You are the team captain. Make sure everybody's talking, and keep everybody hyped. Karen Lewicki and these Old Bridge High School students are warming up for a basketball game at Alan B. Shepard Elementary School. One, two, three! Purple! One, two, three! Purple! It's all part of the Play Unified program. Play Unified brings everyone together to develop a bond of true friendship. We started seven..."