Keep Calm and Unify! Project Unify tournament creating friendships with competition!

Stherlyne Osterne

On Friday, some Navigators and members of Project Unify attended a bocce and track tournament at Michigan State University, dedicated to special needs students. This tournament is one of two annual tournaments that MSU holds for them. The second one is held in June.

As soon as they arrived, they were given a name tag in the form of a bracelet and uniforms. The red uniforms marked “Project Unified” were for the participants, a teal ones marked “Keep Calm and Unify” were for the volunteers who were there to record the points and to also chaperon the games.

First graders all the way to older adults were involved in the peer to peer program. Each Navigator was paired with a special needs student to complete each section. 16 teams were put together, in the sixth grade and up category. After being paired with their special needs partner, the members went to their first assigned court and began the first round. While the bocce ball tournament began, the 400 meters race kicked off, as well. You could hear the crowd chanting encouraging words for the volunteer athletes and the special needs athletes as they ran with bright smiles. The day was not about winning or losing, it was about celebrating these students.

“It was great that I saw that most of the ASD students were involved in a more sociable environment,” said junior Briana Monroe.

The announcement was made that out of all the schools present, Everett was well represented, with a Viking on every court.

“Seeing all the kids having fun despite their disabilities and seeing that there was a lot of us [vikings] made me proud to be a part of this opportunity and be their friend,” said junior Mary-margaret Bradbury.

The day ended with each special needs participants receiving a ribbon and getting their pictures taken with their partners. Overall the was considered a success as everyone indeed enjoyed themselves.

“ I really had fun today and my partner was my navigator,” said sophomore Jacob Thomas.

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