Seaforth hosts Chatham County Unified Day, Golden Knights parachute into event

Students with disabilities participate in walking and running events


PITTSBORO — Seaforth High School, with assistance from Special Olympics North Carolina, hosted the Chatham County Unified Day for the second time on April 10.

Hundreds of students with disabilities from Chatham County’s elementary, middle and high schools gathered in one spot to participate in outdoor games with other students, student volunteers and school staff cheering them on.

Seaforth athletic director Jason Amy helped launch the event in 2016 at Northwood High School, where he previously held the same job title. Last year was the first time Chatham County Unified Day was held at Seaforth.

“This is why we do what we do,” Amy said. “Teachers that are in the (Exceptional Children) program, regular ed teachers (and) everybody needs to understand the inclusion. We talk about it a lot, but this is what it means. You’ve got kids supporting other kids.”

The events were supposed to take place on Seaforth’s track and initially included walking, running, throws, long jump and other games, however, rain only allowed for walking and running in the basketball gym.

Before things got moved inside, members of the United States Army Parachute Team, or the Golden Knights, dropped one paratrooper in the middle of Seaforth’s football field prior to the playing of the national anthem. Because of the rainy weather, the Golden Knights couldn’t drop more paratroopers as originally planned, but the disappointment didn’t dampen the kids’ excitement.

Despite the walking and running events being limited to the basketball court, the students kept smiles on their faces and shared laughter with each other, their teachers and their peers. Excitement showed further in the races as the students gave full effort getting up and down the court.

Tyrek Moffitt, a student at Chatham Middle who competed in the 50 and 100 meter races, said he enjoyed the running. However, his favorite part of the day was at the end when the students, teachers and student volunteers joined each other at mid-court for a dance party.

“Seeing them be able to branch out and have fun and be able to be active, too, is really great,” Alessia Iacono, president of Northwood High School’s Unified Club said. “It’s rewarding to have relationships with them. We get to see them graduate. We had kids who graduated and are now working or doing something with unified to help, which is great.”

Events like the Unified Day allow the students to not only build relationships with each other and their teachers outside of the classroom — it allows them to freely be themselves in a space meant for them.

“It’s important because everybody deserves a place,” Salita Callicutt, a SONC local coordinator for Chatham County, said. “To give these kids a place that they’re welcome, and not only are they welcomed, they’re celebrated, is super important. To make even just one day that they feel that, it’s what it’s all about.”