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KHS Unified Sports teacher speaks at Special Olympics Breakfast

Five years ago Kofa High School teacher Tom Spanton encountered a moment he says changed his life.

After more than two decades teaching Physical Education around Yuma County, including several years with Kofa, Spanton had an opportunity to teach Unified Sports, an inclusive program that unites Special Olympics athletes with general population students for training and competition. According to the Special Olympics website, the idea behind the program is to promote social inclusion with the “simple principle” that training together and playing together is a path to friendship and understanding.

Five years ago, Spanton, while admittedly unsure how it would go, took the challenge head on and has built on what he called a “wonderfully, amazing” experience.

On Wednesday, Oct. 11, Spanton’s experience came full circle as he shared his story as a guest speaker at the 2nd Annual Special Olympics Breakfast with Champions. The fundraising event was emceed by KYMA reporter Dallis Ontiveros and included presentations from Special Olympics Arizona CEO Tim martin, Special Olympics and Unified Sports advocate Kathy Wyer, Lieutenant Abraham Sandoval of the Arizona Department of Corrections, and Special Olympian Isabel Camacho.

Spanton’s speech included a brief overview of how he got into teaching and coaching as well as what Unified Sports means to him. “To me, Unified Sports is just like team sports and backyard games and physical training classes in the [general education] world. We do the same activities. We talk about graduating. We talk about transitioning into the real world. We focus on career readiness skills. We discuss teamwork and work ethic and integrity. Students are held accountable. Students hear words like capable and dependable. Expectations are high.”

For more information on Unified Sports, click HERE


Eric Patten