The Coachella Valley Unified School District held its first Ability Sports Festival, Saturday afternoon, offering students both with and without disabilities an opportunity to participate in adaptive sports.

The event was held at Coachella Valley High School, put together by two special education teachers who’ve had the goal of adapting to meet the needs of all students.

“We want our kids to know that there’s other things out there for them, there are sports that they can participate in… and we want the families to know that there’s people out here in the valley that provide these services to their children.” says Michelle Ramos, a teacher at CVUSD.

Ramos and Kimberly Lopez are both special education teachers in the Coachella Valley Unified School District and are the faces behind the first annual Ability Sports Festival.

“There’s a lot of resources for them that sometimes we don’t all know about… and so having an event like this allows all of our resources to come together so that parents can walk around and see every resource that’s available for them.” Lopez says.

The event had several sports that were modified so that all students could participate, including wheelchair basketball, switch-adapted sports for those that have limited physical abilities, as well as adapted soccer, baseball, tennis, and plenty more.

“Just to see how inclusive sports can be if we adapt and change them a little bit and allow everybody to play.”

Both Ramos and Lopez hope they can make this festival a yearly event.

With the help of SoCal Adaptive Sports implementing adaptive sports into the district, this is just a preview of what’s to come…

“They are going around to several of our school sites where they’re taking these adaptive sports out to the students, so they’re actually taking wheelchair basketball, they’re doing bocci and then they are doing sitting volleyball with all of our students.” Lopez says.

Everyone that attended the event enjoyed seeing the inclusivity in sports.

“Probably just seeing all the kids have fun to be honest. Yes. It’s so nice to see them just enjoying the day and be around other kids that are like them… it’s just the best.” one attendee said.

Overall, the festival was about working together with one another.

“Like we said, everybody was invited. It’s not just our special-ed kids. Everybody was invited just to see what we can all do if we work together.”

As of now, CVUSD is the only district in the valley to have implemented a program like this with a goal to create greater societal inclusion and understanding.

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