Kirk Herbertson, a former member of the Lincoln County School Board who takes photos for the Lincoln Herald says he got the idea from a Facebook post. His alma mater, Franklin High School in Franklin, NC, had a special basketball game for special needs students last year. Herbertson pitched the idea to the School Board, and on Thursday (March 17th) the first-ever Unified Basketball Game was held at Lincolnton High School.
Herbertson, who has a form of high functioning autism called Asperger's, has been heavily involved in Special Olympics. Special Olympics has a program called Unified Champion Schools. The purpose of the program is to help students with special needs who may have difficulty interacting with other students to feel more comfortable engaging in activities.
Lincolnton High School has a Unified Champions Club which became involved with the project as a way to highlight the need to accept that others have differences but all deserve an opportunity to be involved in activities without being stereotyped by negative images.
Each of the special needs athletes was partnered with another student. Some participated in the basketball game; others, as cheerleaders. The Lincolnton Recreation Dept. was also involved as was the Exceptional Children's Program at Lincolnton Middle School, who designed t-shirts for the participants.