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DUSD Staff, Volunteers and Dublin High Robotics Unite for Special Olympics Magic

March 19, 2013

Special Olympics of Northern California Event at Granada High School - 3The Dublin High School boys varsity basketball team has been making noise recently, reaching the semi-finals at the California State Championships before falling in an overtime thriller on Saturday in Sacramento. Much closer to home, Dublin Unified School District staff the Dublin High School Gaels Robotics Club helped to fulfill the basketball dreams for scores of our students that reside in the Tri-Valley. Last Friday, a special collaboration between Special Olympics of Northern California and schools in the local area came together to conduct an interactive basketball tournament to specifically benefit students aged 11 – 22.

The celebration was held at Granada High School in Livermore. The participants included middle and high school students attending schools in Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin, including those attending under the umbrella of Adaptive Physical Education (APE). APE is a physical education program which may be adaptive or modified to address the individualized needs of children and youth who have motor developmental delays. Under this definition, students receive assessments / specific instructions, individualized goals and benchmarks. This instruction is required by California State law, and is performed in a Least Restricted Environment (LRE). Adaptations are made to ensure that each student will experience success in a safe environment. Students that participate vary from individuals with minor developmental disabilities to those with profound handicaps. Regardless, the emphasis of APE is to facilitate participation of students with disabilities with typically developing peers in age-appropriate activities.

It was a sparkling morning in Livermore as a mass of students gathered in the Granada High School quad in advance of the first bell. While students scattered to their respective classrooms, we entered into the main gymnasium for the opening ceremonies. The bleachers were filled with students, staff members, families and friends. After a stirring rendition of the National Anthem by a Granada student and the Pledge of Allegiance, the Special Olympics Athlete’s Oath was cited:

“Let me win; but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Dublin High School Gaels Robots Basketball Throwing Machine for Special Olympics Event - 2The participants were directed into each of the two Granada gyms and timing/court assignments were designated. What we witnessed was a myriad of athletic endeavors. On the main court, games were conducted by older students with scorekeeping and timing. In the adjoining smaller gym, dribbling and shooting drills were conducted. For those participating in wheelchairs, a special treat was already in place. With advanced planning, the Dublin High School Robotics Club rolled out their latest creation. After working for three months, the club designed and executed a device that would allow any athlete to participate. The mechanism employed high speed cylinders and an arced track that would propel a basketball towards the basket.

OneDublin.org visited with APE instructor, Eric Hamilton, to understand the impact of this event. Mr. Hamilton has been employed by DUSD since 2005 and has largely devoted his time to APE for the last five years. Eric attained his B.S. in Kinesiology from CSU East Bay and a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Physical Education from San Francisco State University.

OneDublin.org: How did this collaboration with Special Olympics and the Tri-Valley schools occur?

Dublin Unified School District Special Education Teacher Eric Hamilton

Eric Hamilton: “A teacher who had previously participated in the Schools Partnership Program in another district moved into DUSD and was interested in continuing that participation with her new class. DUSD administration attended the Bay Area Games competition and was very impressed with the program. An agreement was reached and a pilot program for soccer was formed in September 2012.”

OneDublin.org: How and why are you passionate about Adaptive Physical Education?

Hamilton: “I have always enjoyed Physical Education and think that it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for anyone. Being an APE teacher allows me to work with all students and to help them reach their goals, no matter how big or small they may be. When they reach their goals or get excited about an activity or an accomplishment, their reaction/response makes it all worth it. My students bring a whole different perspective, their enthusiasm and energy is contagious.”

OneDublin.org: Help us understand the level of coordination that was involved in order to make this basketball event a reality.

Hamilton: “The events and our community have responded with enthusiasm and heartfelt cheer and support. For this particular event, special thanks go out to Brad Morisoli, and APE teacher in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District for his assistance. Also, to Cindy Chase, APE teacher in Pleasanton Unified School District, who assisted me in bringing our communities and districts together to celebrate the abilities of all of our students. This event was possible by grants from Special Olympics of Northern California and the Safeway Corporation.”

OneDublin.org: What feedback do you receive from the parents/families of the participating students?

Hamilton: “The feedback has been very positive. These events have allowed students to learn from each other and to see the true nature of sportsmanship, friendship and success. The measure of the success is demonstrated through the sense of achievement and participation that our special needs students received as a result of the leadership and support of the general education staff and peers.”

OneDublin.org: Please explain the circumstances for the DHS Robotics Club to contribute to this event.

Hamilton: “The Robotics Club has created two robots for each of our events so far (soccer and basketball). The second robot allowed students to push a button to shoot the basketball into the hoop. The teamwork between the students and the athletes has been invaluable to both. It has been exciting to watch and has been a model for other high schools and Special Olympics events in the area.”

The Tri-Valley’s version of “March Madness” came a bit early to Livermore last Friday. OneDublin.org would like to commend educators, like Eric Hamilton, for providing our special athletes a taste of the Olympic ideal.

Dublin High School Gaels Robots Basketball Throwing Machine for Special Olympics Event

Dublin High School Gaels Robots Basketball Throwing Machine for Special Olympics Event

Dublin High School Gaels Robots Basketball Throwing Machine for Special Olympics Event

Dublin High School Gaels Robots Basketball Throwing Machine for Special Olympics Event

Special Olympics of Northern California Event at Granada High School

Special Olympics of Northern California Event at Granada High School

Special Olympics of Northern California Event at Granada High School

Special Olympics of Northern California Event at Granada High School

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