Kentridge High School hosted Pack the Gym night on January 29 to rally support for the unified basketball teams of Kentridge, Kentwood, and Kent-Meridian, drawing a remarkable show of community backing.

This annual event brings together students and athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) as part of the unified sports program, fostering inclusion and camaraderie. While the Kent School District has initiated unified programs in elementary and middle schools with financial aid from a Special Olympics of Washington Grant, the competitive spirit intensifies at the high school level.

The inclusion of Kentwood and Kent-Meridian marks a significant milestone in involving the entire Kent community. Despite setbacks caused by COVID-19, the event has regained its strength, demonstrating the enduring impact of unified sports programs.

Pack the Gym showcased matchups between the participating schools, emphasizing camaraderie and support over on-court performance. Kentridge, with its seasoned unified program, serves as a guiding example for other schools, emphasizing leadership, positivity, and teamwork.

Dacia Strong, a Special Olympics Washington staff member, reflected on the event, expressing her delight at the overwhelming support and energy. She noted the inclusive setup of the event, which drew a large and enthusiastic crowd, with students cheering on their peers. Strong also described Pack the Gym as a competitive, heartwarming, and fun event, expressing hope that its model would be adopted by other unified programs.

To learn more about how you can get involved and support unified sports programs, visit Special Olympics Washington. Join us in celebrating inclusion and fostering community support for athletes with IDD. Together, we can make a difference!