As the fall sports season begins wrapping up, I thought it would be nice to write something on Millburn’s Play Unified team. At Studio 462, we spend a lot of time covering the big varsity sports and not enough time on teams like this. For those who don’t know, Play Unified is a sports team that represents all students of Millburn High School. This program not only brings students with learning challenges and their peers together, but also provides our students with opportunities that many schools cannot afford. The team plays different sports according to the season, and for fall the sport was soccer. The ideals of sportsmanship, teamwork, and hard work were both stressed and carried out.
For the first time this year, the sentiments of the Play Unified Team were applied to a club for those who were not as athletic. The Unified Club also helps connect students with those in our school who have learning challenges, however instead of playing sports, club members spend their time on arts and crafts, board games, engineering challenges, and more. Being a member of this club, myself, I can say that it is a truly special opportunity. It’s a form of volunteering where you can see your impact directly happening before your eyes, allowing you to grow more efficiently. Members of the club say they leave feeling good about what they did for those 20 minutes and love the freedom they are given in leading the club as a group.
I spoke to the advisors for the club, Mr. Askins and Mrs. Nowak to hear them speak about the club in their own words. Their comments are as follows: “It’s been exciting to see the inclusion efforts grow at the high school. Starting with Lunch Buddies, we have been able to create a sports team that provides students a great opportunity to represent they school. We have also created a Unified Club (which includes Lunch Buddies, the Play Unified team and the Unified Club) that meets once a week to get all students to interact. It has been exciting to see the close to 30 students gather each week and plan and execute different activities. We have also created a Unified Gym period which helps to have all students participate in gym. I am really excited to see how each of these programs grows and develops.”