SOUTH WHITLEY — Whitko Community Schools has officially joined the ranks of 69 other schools in the state of Indiana to be presented with the “Champions Together” Award Banner and to become a “Unified Champion School.”
In an flyer drafted by the Champions Together program, the banners are provided to “IHSAA schools that have distinguished themselves through inclusive activities…” The flyer specifies that schools must meet four requirements: “All school sponsored activities must be planned, organized and administered by an Inclusive Student Leadership team that strives to do things with students with intellectual disabilities not for them. The school must participate in at least one activity designed around Whole School Engagement that promotes and encourages awareness, respect and inclusion of persons with intellectual disabilities. The school must organize and participate in at least one Unified Sports activity such as IHSAA Unified Track and Field, a Unified practice or clinic, or a Unified competition with students with intellectual disabilities OR local Special Olympics athletes.”
Additionally, the school had to raise a minimum of $1,500 for Special Olympics Indiana. Whitko achieved this goal through bake sales, T-shirt sales, hosting a 5K event and even a cornhole tournament.
When asked what words she would offer to encourage someone to join the school’s efforts to continue to improve awareness about: inclusion, unity, respect, friendship, and acceptance of others with disabilities, Whitko senior Hanna Yohe shared:
“This is such an amazing foundation! If you want to see people in the community come together, then this is something that you should definitely get involved in. You’ll learn how to put other’s needs before yours and how everyone is different, yet so unique. It’s amazing to see others smile by the work that you put in. I hope that this will continue on at Whitko High School even after I graduate.”
Yohe chose to get involved in the program after realizing she wanted to feel like she was making a difference in the lives of individuals, but admitted that she could never have accomplished this goal without the students at Whitko and her community.