A conversation with Coach Patty Carosotto of the East Greenwich (RI) Unified Volleyball team.
The East Greenwich (RI) Unified Volleyball team has twice won national titles, but Coach Patty Carosotto told Even Field Founder Chuck Wilson that many of the “wins” come off the court. The team took part in a special New England Patriots Alumni Club “Football For You” clinic in Foxboro (MA) Jun 26, 2014. Carosotto said the Special Olympics Unified Basketball Team was the first Unified program initiated at East Greenwich High School and there are now many more schools in Rhode Island offering Unified Sports teams in coordination with the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. Patty is a Special Ed teacher and has a personal connection that led to her efforts to help bring Unified Volleyball to the school. She said the typically developing students are partners with the students with intellectual disabilities, and often find that they have more in common than they realize. She said the Unified Sports team partners gain as much from the experience as the intellectually disabled players on the team. Carosotto said both groups are empowered and committed, adding that there is greater understanding and perspective gained by everyone involved in the program.
The Special Olympics Unified Sports program puts together those with intellectual disabilities together with those without intellectual disabilities. It’s a program that breaks down stereotypes that can be barriers to inclusion, while providing opportunities for young people to participate in sports, who might not otherwise have that chance.