Education Department: Students with disabilities must be included in school sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For the first time in history, students with disabilities will now be included on sports teams at their local school.

"We embrace all of our young people participating in extracurricular activities, and we know that outside of the classroom, sports teaches you a lot of things, and I think it's an exciting time for individuals with disabilities, and we're definitely going to make the best of it," Hickman Mills district athletic coordinator Itasha Goodwin said.

The change means students with disabilities, who want to play for their school, can join the traditional teams if the school can make reasonable modifications to accommodate them.

If adjustments would alter the sport, or give the student an advantage, schools will have to create parallel teams similar to the track teams districts like Raytown already have.

"We parallel our Special Olympic track program with our varsity track program, and have several meets that go on at the same time," Raytown district activities director Bob Glasgow said.

While it is still too soon to tell who would foot the bill, schools agree there will be several factors that could make this a costly addition to sports programs around the country.

"Depending on the sport, it will dictate how much financial cost there is," Glasgow said.

"You want to make sure that you have knowledgeable coaches, the proper equipment for these young people.  I think that we will just have to find a way, and make a way.  It's about what's going to be best for our children," Goodwin said.

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