What I Wish You Knew – Teagan’s Story.

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“And the winner of Homecoming Queen 2016 is Teagan Motschall!” September 23, 2016 was a special day for Poudre High School. It was homecoming week; it was a football victory over Rocky Mountain High School; and it was a win for the whole Poudre High School community. That evening, 19-year-old Teagan, with an infectious smile, was queen for the night. Teagan, who is beset by health complications and unable to speak without assistive technology, sparkled like the gem she is.

Teagan’s childhood was a fight from her first moments. At birth, Teagan suffered a brain injury that would significantly affect her brain. Within 6 minutes of her birth, baby Teagan began what would become a life of seizures. Through determination, fight and her faith, Teagan has made the most of life with, and despite, her limitations. To friends and family, she is the sassy girl with a great sense of humor.

Being the oldest of four children, Teagan’s siblings have never known a life untouched by Family photo (2).pngdisability. Teagan’s brother Taylor, who is 13 months younger, has helped her become the young woman she is. He treats her the same as anyone else. As children often do, he expected a lot from her. He didn’t stop to consider her limitations; instead, he pushed her beyond them. The night Teagan was nominated for Homecoming Queen, her whole family, including her brother who made the hour drive from college, were there cheering her on. As we sat and visited for this article, Teagan scrolled through years of photos saved on her phone, beaming with pride over pictures and videos of her sisters and brother.

“We are better people for having her in our family,” shares mom Christine. They have had enough close calls to know how precious life is and how quickly it can be gone. When Teagan was eleven she experienced an allergic reaction to pain medication. One evening while napping on the family’s couch, she became unresponsive and her heart stopped.  She had for all intents and purposes died. Paramedics were called and revived Teagan. “We got her back!” says Christine.

Over the last year and a half Teagan has become a beloved member of the Poudre High School Community. “I am so happy that Teagan came to Poudre High School and that I have been one of her teachers. She brings the best kind of energy to our school; she not only has a great sense of humor, but also real determination to try everything and have fun while she’s doing it. She is an incredibly valuable member of Poudre High School and will be truly missed when she graduates this year!” Lisa Owsley, Integrated Service teacher, shared.

“The thing I appreciate and cherish most about Teagan is her sense of humor. That girl is one of the funniest people I know. She’s also incredibly caring and has a great attitude. basketballSometimes I catch her playing with my hair and loving on me, just because. She’s got so much love in her heart and she radiates that to everybody she meets. In Unified basketball, I might have perfected her shooting form but in high school she didn’t need my help. She has shaped me into a better human being and has helped me be successful in viewing things in a different perspective. Teagan has been successful at PHS in the fact that she has touched so many people’s hearts. She is unafraid to make new friends and is very accepting of everyone. She puts her all into her academics, sports, and the meaningful relationships she creates along the way. I am truly blessed to call Teagan Motschall my friend,” shares classmate and friend Madi Giles. Whether it’s secret handshakes or playing together on snapchat, Teagan has been accepted and loved by her community and peers.

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(Teagan and her favorite artist Taylor Swift)

Teagan’s favorite class is PE with Mr. Goyler, so it’s no wonder she is active in Poudre High School’s Unified flag football and basketball teams. She spends free time with her family, care takers and her Capernum (Young Life) group.

“We are so grateful for the Poudre High School kids, Ms. Owsley, paras and teachers.” Christine, Teagan’s mom, shared why Teagan is thriving at school. “I genuinely believe it [the school culture toward people with disabilities] comes from the top down at Poudre. Lisa has revolutionized how typical kids’ attitudes have changed toward students with needs. Lisa gets everyone excited! She loves her students! She is amazing with all of the students.” Christine had no shortage of praise for the PHS staff, in particular Lisa Owsley. “Every time I am around her I think, I want to be like Lisa, to love as much as Lisa does.”

In addition to the Poudre High School community, the Motschall family is excited about and supportive of High Pointe Services. High Pointe Services is an organization that provides private care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A variety of services are offered based upon the needs and desires of each client. By partnering with PHS, High Point, and home care providers, Teagan’s family is given the chance to be father, mother, brother, sisters and not simply care takers.

It’s not hard to figure out why Teagan was elected Homecoming Queen by her peers. She is brave, resilient, sassy and inspiring. I dare you to see her smile and not return it in full.homecoming-2-2

Poudre School District Integrated Services

Director: Sarah Belleau

2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Unified Basketball is back.

Last week kicked off the Special Olympics Unified Basketball season. Click here for 2016 season schedule.

 

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Boltz Goes Unified.

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DSC_0019Boltz Middle School has gotten into the unified spirit. In partnership with Special Olympics, Boltz Middle School is offering Project Unified classes. Four classes are being offered, 2 for 6th graders and 2 for 7th and 8th graders. DSC_0213
The classes are offered based off of staff recommendations and are designed for students with and without developmental disabilities, to work together to plan and facilitate events.

DSC_0068The Project Unified Classes provide an opportunity for students to develop relationships as peers as well as build leadership skills and job skills. “We always start class with a journal question usually encouraging them to self-reflection, leading to growth and leadership,” says paraprofessional Joy Mcneil.

The classes are student driven, with help DSC_0282from Integrated Service paraprofessionals, Braden
Ackley and Joy Mcneil. The big event this season was the second annual Project Unified Basketball game held this past Saturday. Students spent the semester selecting and purchasing concession stand products, designing uniforms, creating fliers, and producing video DSC_0014advertisements to be shown on the morning announcements. Students went so far as to contactDSC_0046 the Denver Nuggets to request someone attend the event. Graciously, Nuggets coach and Community Ambassador Mark Randall made the trip from DSC_0240Denver to be a guest coach for one of the teams. Students also organized a half time game of crab-walk soccer, consisting of Coach Randall, players and DSC_0167students from the audience. Before heading back home, Coach Randall presented Boltz Middle School with a signed basketball andDSC_0056 high praise. He doted on the school for starting programs of unity early, instead of waiting until high school level where they are more common. The evening wrapped up with a full gym dance party. The perfect ending to a great evening.

Boltz Middle School staff have done a great service to students by providing these Project Unified Classes. In turn, students are making life long memories in a fun and unique way that they can take pride in.

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* Integrated Services would like to thank you to Coach Randall for his participation and support!

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Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Fort Collins High School Shines Bright With Concession Stand.

DSC_0020The Project Unified flag football games are in full swing. While the players are on the field, another group of students are showing their school spirit off the field. DSC_0173Each week a group of students operate a concession stand for the football games. The concession stand is run by student volunteers from Fort Collins High School. Colleen Reyes, the Speech and Language Clinician for FCHS, started the concession stand as a way for students to support fellow Lambkins while also gaining job skill training. Reyes says the concession stand “is DSC_0058giving students opportunities to work with peers, practice customer service and money skills, as well as generalize communication skills outside of the classroom/ therapy setting.”

Student volunteers are tasked with buying prepackaged snacks to sell, setting the DSC_0158stand up, exchanging money, and supporting their school. Volunteers consist of students with and without disabilities. The proceeds from the stand go toward the Fort Collins High School Autism Program.

 

 

 

 

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Week 1 – Unified Flag Football Photos

Photos from the Flag Football program made possible through a partnership between Poudre School District athletic departments and Special Olympic of Colorado.

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Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                 Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                                    2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

Fall 2015 Unified Flag Football Schedule

Unified Flag Football Game Schedule 2015-page-001

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                 Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                                    2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521

They shoot, they score! Unified Basketball is a win.

If you are looking to be inspired, you don’t have to look far. Poudre School District in connection with Special Olympics’ Project Unified has formed it’s very own unified sports IMG_0260basketball league with not only one but four unified high school basketball teams. Unified Sports are teams consisting of students with and without intellectual disabilities. The heart behind this project is that when you practice together, play together and learn together,  understanding grows and friendships are formed.

To get to this point was a labor of love and quite a few people. One of the most instrumental people is Erin Coy, Integrated Services Coach for Poudre School District. After 10 years as a special education educator she was frustrated with the lack of opportunity at a high school level for her students with special needs.

In 2011 she and 4 other educators from Poudre School District and Thompson School District came together to create a Special Olympics Track and Field Event for high school students in the two districts. “Our mission was to provide the opportunity for students with disabilities to compete in athletic activities as a representative of their high school.” says Coy.

The event was a success and a relationship between PSD and Special Olympics was formed. In 2012, Project Unified was gaining traction in the state of Colorado. An area representative contacted Coy about the possibility of bringing Unified Sports to Fort Collins. This was what Coy had been looking for. That year she put together a unified basketball team with students from Fossil Ridge High School to play exhibition games at the Budweiser Event Center during the Harlem Globetrotters Show. The same team had the opportunity to play later that year in an exhibition game at the Pepsi Center for a Denver Nuggets game.

It was time to take it to the next level. In the fall of 2013, a district committee including Rick Yonker (2012 interim district athletic director), Sarah Belleau, and the athletic directors from each school was formed.  The committee with help from Chaka Sutton and Allo Perry from Project Unify Colorado, founded Unified Sports in PSD with 2014 Winter Basketball.

Just like most teams, players try out and partner players have an additional application component. Teams generally practice about 2 times per week. Many of the schools spend practice time with freshman JV, and varsity basketball. Unified Sports are funded by PSD and Unified Sports Grants and  are free to the public. This is something you should not miss!635576567977326195-Coloradoan-012415-UnifiedBasketball-8

Unified Basketball Winter 2014/2015 Schedule.

Coaches

Fort Collins High School:  Stacy Sidebottom, Kelly Kappel  & Troy Tollar

Fossil Ridge High School:  Kim Eberhart, Jamie Westyn, & Brittany Hutson

Rocky Mountain High School:  Amy McLean & Chris O’Grady

Poudre High School:  Wendi Miller & Lisa Owsley

Poudre School District Integrated Services                                                                 Director: Sarah Belleau                                                                                                                     2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521