Estero High School promotes inclusion through Special Olympics basketball

It was more than a game, as one basketball bout between Estero High School and Cypress Lake High School, this week, brought ESE students onto the court who play the game their way.

“They have intellectual disabilities, but they have talent, and they can play basketball,” said Gina Sheehey, an ESE life skills teacher and coach at Estero High School. “Everybody is equal in our school and this promotes that equality and it teaches our regular ed students about students with disabilities and encourages acceptance at our school, so it’s huge.”

Sheehey said she hopes the basketball game marks the first of many sports in Southwest Florida that incorporate athletes with special needs.

“This is our first game, and we’re gonna start track in the spring, so our goal is to get to four sports a year with Special Olympics,” Sheehey said. “I do hope it will catch on in the community as well, and we can have it as a higher level in college and so forth because I think it’s definitely needed in our country.”

Photo by WINK News.

Haley Marra is a senior at Estero High School and works with the Best Buddies program to help incorporate ESE students. She said she was pleased to see the Estero gymnasium packed full of people cheering for everyone on the court and the impact the game had on everyone involved.

“The look on their face when they walked in the gym, and there was all those people in there. It was amazing,” Marra said.

The game of basketball brought smiles to everyone in the Wildcats gym.

“Seeing this as one of the best days of their lives,” Sheehey said. “I couldn’t be happier seeing that my kids be so happy.”

Reporter:Melinda Lee
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