NewsLocal News

Actions

Special Olympics Montana highlights Billings Skyview unified PE program

During Unified PE at Skyview High School
Posted at 3:25 PM, Mar 05, 2024

BILLINGS — On Tuesday at Billings Skyview High School, Special Olympics Montana stopped by to highlight the school’s inclusive sports program and spread an important message.

The program is a way to promote social inclusion through sports for those with and without disabilities.

Unified PE warmup posters
Unified PE warmup posters

"I don’t know how people would leave this class without feeling rejoiced,” said Rae Smart, a three-sport athlete at the school, on Tuesday.

At Skyview, the unified physical education program is a highly sought-after class.

"It’s my favorite class of the day to come raise my attitude,” Smart said.

Rae Smart
Rae Smart

The class provides an opportunity for students of varying abilities to come together.

"(My favorite part) is just getting to see the kids every day," Smart said. "They’re just amazing kids. They’re always smiling."

Terri Norman works for Special Olympics Montana and recruits schools to introduce unified sports programs.

"They’re bringing students with and without disabilities, working alongside each other. Building friendships. And it’s just really special to see that,” Norman said on Tuesday. "Our current number is 122 unified champion schools across the state. We have 13 schools in Billings Public Schools (and) Elysian School District as well. And Laurel School District.”

Terri Norman
Terri Norman

Norman spoke to Skyview students about the Special Olympics 'Spread the Word' campaign.

“Spread the Word was started 15 years ago. The focus is to remove the hurtful words and the hurtful language," said Norman. "And to take action and stand up for what’s right. Standing for including others with intellectual and developmental disabilities."

The programs are far-reaching and make a big impact.

During Unified PE at Skyview High School
During Unified PE at Skyview High School

"It just brings joy and happiness to anyone’s day,” said Norman.

The 2024 Special Olympics Montana State Summer Games are headed to Billings.

2024 Montana Special Olympics State Summer Games poster
2024 Montana Special Olympics State Summer Games poster

"I’m first playing track and field and then after that, I’m doing basketball,” said Gabe Kapperud, a Special Olympics athlete and student at Skyview, on Tuesday.

Gabe Kapperud
Gabe Kapperud

Athletes Kapperud and Jesse Ham are excited to show their skills.

"This is my first year," Ham said. "(I'm looking forward to) playing with my friends."

Jesse Ham
Jesse Ham

They will have a large crowd cheering them on.

"I will definitely be going," Smart said. "I went last year and it was the highlight of my year."

Smart is on the Skyview girls basketball team but also plays soccer and track for the school. She said the Special Olympics athletes frequent their basketball games.

"I know that some of the kids come out and watch us play basketball and it’s just good to see them at the games. Because they know that there’s other kids out here doing it," said Smart. “Just giving them someone to look up to is important. Someone that they can share something in common with."

Finding common ground in sports.

Walking together in class
Walking together in class

"For sports, all that matters is trying your hardest," said Kapperud. "Let us win in state."

To learn more about the 2024 Special Olympics Montana State Summer Games, click here.

To learn more about Special Olympics Montana's unified sports program, click here.