In February 2019, Antelope Valley High School received the Special Olympics Unified Champion School designation for its creation of the district-wide Overcoming Obstacles Track Meet, and in recognition of the Forever Friends Club, which works to promote inclusion on campus.
The Overcoming Obstacles Track Meet, now in its third year, brings together more than 400 student athletes with special needs from across the Antelope Valley Union High School District in an inspiring and fun-filled day of various track meet events including relay races, and long jump and throwing competitions. This year, the track meet will offer a new relay race that includes general education and special education students. Peers, educators, and family and community members come together to cheer them on and provide support. The Forever Friends Club, led by a group of general and special education students, puts on social events such as dances and holiday celebrations for AVHS students with special needs. As part of this designation, Special Olympics provides support for AVHS' various inclusion efforts.
"We are incredibly grateful to Special Olympics for recognizing our efforts in this special way," said Antelope Valley High School Vice Principal John Najar. "Inclusion in our schools is more than important, it helps to ensure that all students have access to a full high school experience and allows for a supportive, caring environment where students are taught to lift each other up."
Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools promote social inclusion by bringing together young people with and without disabilities on sports teams, clubs, school or community initiatives and fostering youth leadership. The initiative is all about unifying all students - with and without disabilities - using sports as a catalyst for social inclusion, and attitude and behavioral change.