HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (April 21, 2023)- Hendersonville Elementary School (HES) is one of 37 Special Olympics Unified Champion schools in the country to make the 2022 ESPN Honor Roll and the only school in North Carolina.
There are over 8,000 Special Olympics Unified Champion schools that practice inclusive sports, inclusive leadership, and whole school engagement. To earn the recognition of a national banner school on the ESPN Honor Roll, schools must demonstrate inclusion through 10 standards of excellence.
HES was selected based on the active involvement of the PawPal program in which fifth-grade students apply for and spend quality time with EC students in Intensive Intervention. The entire school participates in field day, water day, the CubCat Crawl and rallies behind the PawPal program with special olympics and other activities.
The Special Olympics of North Carolina hosted a day of celebration to recognize Hendersonville Elementary School on Friday, April 21, 2023, where they presented the National Unified Champion School Banner.
The day was filled with characters, parades, and fun. HES had the whole community involved with the Hendersonville Fire Department, Police Department, Hendersonville High School Marching Band, Brevard College Cheerleaders and mascots from the Asheville Tourists and UNC-Asheville making an appearance.
The celebration was fun and exciting, but there was also a heartfelt moment that took place as each of the fifth-grade PawPals shared what the mentor program meant to them:
“If there is one thing I enjoy about PawPals, it is seeing my PawPal smile. Making them smile is the best feeling ever.”
“I enjoy PawPals because I love spending time with all of the kids.”
“I like getting to make memories. Even though we all have differences, we are all similar.”