Students in STARS promote life skills, while achieving the goal of integrating special needs students with the rest of the student body.
STARS stands for Students Together with Athletes Reaching Success, and joins programs and courses which develop relationships between students. At 5 southwestern Pennsylvania schools students got together and made friendships while enjoying dance moves in a celebration of Valentine’s day.
STARS has held events in several schools to promote social development for students in Life Skills classes. “It’s really good to get the kids together from across the different school districts, and they’ve been together a few times now, that they’ve started to make connections,” said Belle Vernon Life Skills teacher Cindy Pierce.
According to Pierce, many schools offer physical education courses pairing students with special needs. With STARS, these students can compete against other schools, and build friendships while improving social skills. These are the “Athletes” who participate in the gym classes.
“The mission of [S.T.A.R.S.] is for us to provide meaningful activities for the kids — with or without disabilities,” said Pierce.
The students compete in various sports. This year, the activities included soccer, volleyball, and bowling. It later expanded to include dances, movie screenings, and other events. An event is held monthly at a different school during the academic year.