It all started as a simple idea: create an adaptive gym class where students with and without developmental disabilities could play, learn and grow together. Six years later, Stow-Munroe Falls High School Intervention Specialist Peggy Peters has created and inclusive and supportive program called ‘Teammates’ where students of all abilities can succeed.
“Inclusion is essential because it is the only way people can accept people for who they are,” Peters shared on her philosophy for creating Teammates. “You will be around people who are different your whole life. Everyone needs to coexist, and anytime there is a chance to connect, you will build friendships.”
Peters was the 2017 recipient of the Summit DD Dottie Shrum Culture Award, an award that celebrates an exceptional employee within the field whose actions have gone above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of those with developmental disabilities, at the conclusion of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March.
Teammates is a unique program where students with and without disabilities are paired up to participate in team-based sports like basketball, ultimate frisbee and wiffle ball, and rotate every two weeks so everyone in the class can get to know each other and work together. The class also encourages students to find ways to adapt sports and activities so everyone can participate.
“This class has been awesome, and I have learned a lot about different disabilities,” shared Abby who was teamed up with Sophia in the class. “I have recommended this class to four of my friends and I especially like this class because I want to be a special education teacher.”
“This is my favorite class,” expressed Sophia. “I can’t wait to be with my friends and I am so glad I was in Teammates for my senior year.”
Teammates has community outings and explores options for people with disabilities once they graduate from high school. The program also teaches students without disabilities about IEPs (Individualized Education Plan), speech and physical therapy, adaptive technology and more to help them prepare for a career in special education or the developmental disabilities field.
“This class gives an introspective on how to harmonize with others despite our differences,” shared another student named Matthew, who added that he enjoys the class because he can interact with others both physically in sports and socially as friends outside of class.
Peters is proud of the positive impact this class has made on the school.
“Students with developmental disabilities used to walk down the hallway and no one knew them,” she expressed. “They saw everyone hanging out and they never got to experience that. There are so many positives to the class, but this is the biggest positive. Everyone now says hello, and they feel included. Their confidence is through the roof.”
In the future, Peters would like to open her own agency that would help people with disabilities connect to their community.
The Teammates program is just one example of the inclusion and support efforts going on for students integrated in their local school districts. Summit DD has been working with Copley and Woodridge Schools to create a transition program for students as they move from high school to adult life.
Check out more success stories of people all throughout our great community!