VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A basketball game at a local high school is making sure everyone feels included.
On Wednesday at Green Run High School, more than 300 students watched as students with Champions Together Special Olympics played a game of hoops.
"Their smiles and their happiness, it just brings joy to your heart. It makes you feel full,” explained Special Education Teacher Leeanna Blachford.
The program, called Champions Together Special Olympics, helps to build acceptance and inclusion for students with special needs.
Blachford said, "For them, this is something they will carry for the rest of their lives."
Students told 13News Now they had a blast. Many of them said this is their first time playing for a crowd!
"They don't get to participate in sports, and they want to try out for teams, but a lot of times they might be too old or they might have a disability that does not allow them to participate," Blachford explained.
The Champions Together program is in its first year at Virginia Beach City Public Schools and organizers said so far, it’s a huge success. The group has “buddies” who meet with students and become lifelong friends with them.
Blachford said, "One is a Division I football player that got a scholarship. He's been a part of our leadership. These kids are like, 'He's going to college,' things that they have never looked forward to. They are meeting people, and it's important to them. They have friends, and it makes them feel good."
Their motto is to be kind to everyone.
"The world should see things like that more often," said Blachford.