LANSING – The Everett High School Project UNIFIED cheerleading team is headed for Los Angeles.
The group of eight girls, four of whom are enrolled in special education programs, will represent Michigan at the Special Olympics Saturday through Aug. 2.
Project UNIFIED is a nationwide program developed by the Special Olympics to help unify students in general and special education.
After being selected by the state committee, Everett was chosen by the national committee to participate in the event and will be one of 14 national cheer teams represented in California.
Donations paid for trip expenses.
“Project UNIFIED brings special and general education kids together in a very inclusive environment. It’s made Everett a special place to learn,” said Martin Alwardt, the director of special education for the Lansing School District. “Last year we had 18 schools from the Lansing School District involved in Project UNIFIED — we’re the largest in the state. General and special education kids come together and they’re involved in athletics, general education, and (other) activities.
“It’s really made our learning culture a very positive place.”
This is the inaugural year that cheerleading will be represented at the Special Olympics. The opening ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. (EST) Saturday and will be broadcast on ESPN 2 at 8 p.m.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be Honorary Chairs. They will be joined by Honorary Hosts Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Jerry Brown.
“It will be a unique bonding experience for (the girls),” coach Amy Robinson said. “They’ll get a chance to meet people from over 177 different countries and be a part of an experience of a lifetime.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.