Washington athletes thrilled to be a part of Mid-Illini Unified Athletes Field Day

Updated: Sep. 11, 2023 at 6:30 PM CDT
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(25News Now) - Washington hosted the annual Mid-Illini Unified Athletes Field Day on Friday and it was another rousing success. Unified PE athletes from all eight Mid-Illini schools came out to participate in a day of fun. And that’s a big part of what Unified PE is all about.

“Unified PE is actually a PE class that focuses on inclusion,” Washington Unified PE teacher Kara Kamienski said. “We have students with disabilities paired up with students who do not have disabilities and we focus on fun, fitness and friendship.”

Many Panthers varsity athletes are part of the Unified PE program at Washington. That includes many of the Panthers football players who got a big rivalry win over Metamora on Friday night. They say the Unified Field Day was just as much fun as their big rivalry win.

“I decided to be in unified because I love those kiddos,” Panthers junior Carter Prina said. “There’s really no class better. This is the best class by far. You’re basically making friendships.”

And for many of those varsity athletes, it’s a way to be more than just an athlete and really get involved in making their school an inclusive environment.

“It’s a lot of fun just to be a part of the school just including everyone,” senior Kainon McQueary said. “Us athletes just getting involved with the school it’s fun just letting them have fun.”

And Friday was also a message about the beauty of sports. It was a message about how not everything is about winning and losing. Not everything is about playing in front of big crowds. It’s about trying your very best and having a lot of fun while doing it.

“Absolutely, that is the beauty of sports,” Panthers senior Brayson Barth said. “They’re having a great time out here. I think that’s the beautiful thing about it is we get to be a part of that.”

And all the Panthers agree that being a part of the program and a part of Unified Field Day is about as rewarding an experience as you can get.

“It just makes my day getting to go out and see these kids,” Panthers senior Tyler Brown said. “They may not have the opportunity to go out there and play football like I am but when I go out there and see them practicing and smiling just the biggest smile ever, it just makes my day.”