Second Annual Play Unified Kickoff Event A Success Once Again

courtesy of the Buccaneer
Senior Mike D'Agostino and senior Dan Rosanio pose during the 2018 Play Unified Night

Grace Coller, Staff Writer

Once again, Cinnaminson High School has fully embraced their second annual Play Unified kickoff event, bringing the formative club into the spotlight. 

The event occurred on October 4 prior to the Willingboro vs. Cinnaminson football game that also included a soccer game versus Moorestown in the afternoon.

Play Unified, specifically Play Unified soccer, is an opportunity for all students to play a sport, and become involved in school activities in instances where they might not be able to otherwise. Gaining momentum, the Play Unified club, promoted by the  International Special Olympics Organization, has been instituted in a handful of local schools, including Cinnaminson, Moorestown, Delran and Pennsauken. The increasing development and popularity of the Play Unified Program at Cinnaminson High School has not only impacted the students involved, but the school environment as a whole. 

“We’ve got some regular education teachers involved too, rather than just special education. I think just being more Unified with our staff… it’s helping grow [the Play Unified program] and.. solidify it even more,” comments Mr. Rella, the director of the club. 

Mr. Rella explains, “This impacted the partners that we have as well. They are exposed to different types of students and I think that’s good on both sides; my students being happier… and enjoying being with all the kids.” 

One of the pillars this club rests on is the idea of participating as one team, with one goal; a joint sports team is only the beginning, allowing students to connect to their teammates, and replace preconceived notions with developing memories. As more and more students become members, or get involved with Play Unified, not only is a more inclusive sports environment created, but also a more inclusive social environment as well. 

“The thing I like the most is when we have the students come out and support…we had a really big crowd… the school community as a whole being out there,” Rella said. 

Students do not have to be a formal member of the Play Unified club in order to get involved; wearing the Play Unified shirts, making posters, and showing up to events all contribute to a more supportive experience for the Play Unified team members, reflecting school spirit as a whole. 

Mikey D’Agostino, a Play Unified student leader, reflects upon his experience saying, “I felt like it was [valuable] to actually do something that was bigger than me, to help out the kids.” 

The positive outreach of the Play Unified club is evident in the school community, showing that small steps, such as joining a unified soccer team, can have meaningful outcomes, far bigger than one person joining one club. This leads to lasting friendships, and a growing sense of understanding between peers, who without an opportunity such as this club may never have crossed paths.  

When asked what his favorite part about being a member of the club, Mikey explained “Seeing the kids happy, [and see them] smile.”