Originally published Monday, July 9, 2018 at 06:05a.m.

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CVHS Unified Sports team was chosen as the Unified Sports Team of the Year at the AZCentral Sports Awards. (Courtesy)

Chino Valley High School’s Unified Sports team is a team, which pairs students with and without intellectual disabilities to compete together in Special Olympic competitions.

Coach Jenda Ballard states, “In five years, we have established not only a well-rounded program that has changed the climate of our school but one that also reaches out to other schools in Arizona to help them in their efforts to bring the Unified experience to their school and community.”

Senior partner, David Gehman was chosen as the AIA Champions Unified Partner of the Year. David shares, “Unified Sports has changed my life and has helped me to understand what God wants me to do in my future. The friendships I have made in Unified, will last a lifetime.”

CVHS Unified Sports team was also chosen as the Unified Sports Team of the Year at the AZCentral Sports Awards in May. At the awards ceremony, Coach Ballard thanked CVHS for including our Unified Sports team in the life of CVHS.

In addition, Special Olympics USA recognized CVHS as a National Unified Champion School in June. This program recognizes schools across the country for having Unified Sports programs where students compete together in sports and also promotes whole-school engagement while developing sustainable Youth Leadership.

CVHS held several events that contributed to their recognition such events as the Miracle Minute fundraiser that raised over $1,000 in one minute for our Unified team and the CVHS Yearbook titled, “We Are Unified” to honor the efforts our school makes to promote inclusion.

“I am blessed and honored to be part of this team. Our athletes and partners have truly “unified” CVHS,” shared Coach Luci Swope. CVHS will receive a banner to go up in their gym this fall to celebrate this national recognition.