Neenah school recognized by ESPN for inclusive sports program

Local News

NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) – A Fox Valley high school is being nationally recognized by ESPN for its inclusive sports programs.

Neenah High School is one of 36 Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools from across the nation on the 2020 ESPN Honor Roll. The list includes elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as colleges.

Neenah High is the only Wisconsin school on the list and one of 22 high schools.

According to a release, the program’s three main components are inclusive sports among students with and without disabilities, inclusive youth leadership, and whole school engagement.

The school says one of its most notable achievements has been a unified basketball game that typically takes place each November with the Neenah High’s Special Olympics team taking on a team of faculty members.

In 2019, the Special Olympics team included students without disabilities for the first time. The game also features a halftime performance with a unified dance team and a large student section.

The school has also had unified teams compete in track and field and several of the varsity athletic teams have held events in conjunction with the Special Olympics team.

Neenah High School is among a small group of Wisconsin high schools with its own Special Olympics program.

Head coach Chad Oeftger was selected as a basketball coach for team Wisconsin at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.

In recent years, Neenah has taken its inclusion efforts across all levels as Shattuck Middle School also offers a unified program under coach Jenni Oeftger and unified events have been held at several elementary schools.

A Young Athletes Program has been held the past two years during the winter where children with and without disabilities ages 3-10 participate in various athletics activities together.

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