MOUNT WASHINGTON, Ky. — ESPN announced Bullitt East High School as one of the top five schools in the country for Special Olympics, Unified Sports.

"As soon as I heard the News, I started crying happy tears and jumped into a peer's arms because I was so excited," instructional assistant, Katie Hoben said. "Whether or not you are the quarterback of the football team or whether you are the book nerd that likes to be in the library – there's a place for everybody."

ESPN recognized Bullitt East for its efforts towards inclusion. The high school is the top five in the country meeting the national standards of inclusion set by the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools Program.

Bullitt East started its Project Unified club four years. The goal is for students with intellectual disabilities to hang out with their peers beyond the classroom setting.

"We started from the ground up and we had to work and really get kids involved," exceptional children of education teacher, Tiffany Darrell said. "When we first started this program, we only had about twenty kids involved with our Project Unified club and now we have over seventy-five."

The Unified Sports program includes basketball, track and field, and bowling. In order to play a basketball game, a five-person team is required. Two peer leader students will team up with three other students with intellectual disabilities to play a game against another group.

"To watch them succeed is everything, and when they succeed not only does it brighten up your day, but it also brightens yours," peer leader, Adam Moore said. 

Bullitt East is the third school in Kentucky to earn the national recognition, but it is the first-ever to make it to the top five list.

"It is important for schools to support inclusion for all students just so they feel like that they have a voice," Darrell said. 

The ESPN team will come out to Bullitt East High School in late October to unveil a banner commemorating the national recognition. The ceremony will be followed by a celebration for the school's commitment to inclusivity.

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