Mount Pleasant unified basketball team to compete in nationwide Special Olympics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) —  On Friday, the Providence School Department announced that the co-ed basketball team from Mount Pleasant High School will participate in the Unified Basketball Competition at the 2018 Special Olympics USA.

The event will be held July 1-6 in Seattle.

Mount Pleasant began their unified basketball program in 2012, aiming to help students with intellectual disabilities come together and play on the same team as other students.

“Entering our school in unified sports was the beginning of the transformation of Mount Pleasant High School to becoming a truly inclusive environment,” Mount Pleasant High School Principal Christopher Coleman said. “Our Birch Academy students are benefiting from unified sports as we move their learning environment to a more inclusive setting. Our ‘partners’ have enjoyed building friendships and helping our Birch Academy students academically and by involving them in school events and culture.”

Coleman said any student who is interested in playing unified sports at the school is eligible to do so and proficiency in basketball is not required.

The team includes 10 students from both Mount Pleasant High School and its Birch Academy program, with Mount Pleasant teacher Zachary Pinto serving as head coach.

Rhode Island is the only state where every high school with a special education program has a Special Olympics basketball team, according to Special Olympics RI Executive Director Dennis DeJesus.

“We are so proud of the success of the Unified Champions School Program, with 92 schools throughout our state participating,” DeJesus said.

Anyone who wants to learn more about getting involved in Special Olympics Rhode Island can visit the organization’s website.