Students with, without disabilities say they’re Better Together

Sara Vargs, Kenneth Wildmann, Cameron Raushenberg and Audro Rodriguez are the board members of the Better Together Club.

YUCCA VALLEY — Yucca Valley High School promoted Disability Awareness Month last week by hosting its annual Fun with Friends during lunch. The Better Together club, a new group on campus, invited students to set up games, booths and other activities that highlighted some of the ways students with disabilities process information.

Last year the Yucca Valley High School Trojans made strides to bridge the gap between students with and without disabilities by working to become a Special Olympics Unified Champion School.

Champion schools take part in a strategy to improve opportunities in athletics and leadership for students with and without disabilities.

To become one of these schools, YVHS had to commit to hosting a unified sports or physical education program, providing an inclusive youth leadership and hosting whole-school awareness activities.

The school’s awareness activities included an exhibition game at last year’s Battle of the Ball basketball matches at Copper Mountain College and the annual Fun with Friends event.

The school also has a unified P.E. class that includes students with and without disabilities working together as teammates.

This year the Trojans launched the Better Together Club, which is co-run by students with and without disabilities. Co-presidents Kenneth Wildmann and Cameron Raushenberg said the club is very new but is working to unify the campus.

“I was in the unified P.E. class and I’m in ASB and that’s sort of how I got involved,” Raushenberg said. “I’ve been working with students with disabilities since eighth grade and working with Kenneth on projects is great.”

Raushenberg manned a video display during the event that showed fun photos from the unified P.E. class, put together by ASB.

Across from the display were about 20 booths that featured balancing games, a speech game where students had to try to talk with marshmallows in their mouths, a throwing game where students had to throw with their non-dominant hand and more. Each game was meant to highlight a different challenge that some students with disabilities can have participating in school or in sports.

Wildmann helped out at the event and had people sign a banner inside the Trojan gym as a sign of unity across the campus.

“We have a lot of things planned for the future,” he said.

One of the club’s advisers, Donna Powell, agreed and said they’re hoping to showcase the club at the Battle of the Ball this year at CMC. They are also hoping to host a school dance for students with disabilities in the spring.

“We’re just hoping that these programs will help bridge this gap between the students,” Powell said. “Everyone should feel like they’re an equal part of the student body.”

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