Union, NJ - On May 12, Burnet Middle School, Kawameeh Middle School, Jefferson Elementary, and Union High School will kick off a Disabilities Awareness Campaign with an assembly at each of the schools.

Each year Union schools work closely with Play Unify and the Special Olympics Foundation through a special Play Unify Grant. Special Olympics Play Unify is an education-based program that uses sports and education initiatives to promote school communities, where all young people are agents of change—fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. These initiatives encourage engagement, character-building and positive youth leadership, and are preventive mechanisms to discourage stigmatizing and the use of abusive language and behavior.

A committee of faculty members including Diana Pielech, Samantha Formica, Dana Meixner, Lindsay Tennan, Marcel Royal, Erica Santiago and Adrianne Damiano implemented the grant throughout the schools and helped to organize the project.

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The assembly will be the kick off to “Spirit Week” which will begin on May 15.  Throughout the course of the week, students throughout the district will participate in a variety of activities. The culminating event is Field Day, which will take place on Friday, May 19.  Over 250 students will be participating in events including spoon races, potato sack races, bucket stack, water balloon toss, bean bag toss, water fill, football throw, relay race, long jump and soccer kick.

Special guests will include Special Olympics athletes and disabled veterans.

"The Special Olympic Play Unified Grant has given Union the opportunity to fully integrate our schools,” said Pielech.  “These upcoming events are part of our campaign to spread awareness of Unified Sports and social inclusion.  These events are a direct result of our school leaders who have recognized the importance of bringing about a positive change of acceptance in both our schools and community. "

For those interested in covering the event, please contact Akua Boakye (aboakye@twpunionschools.org) or Jennifer Williams (jwilliams@twpunionschools.org) at 908.851.6420.