It takes one person to transform a school. Brandon Wakefield, a physical education teacher, is that person at Warren County High School in Front Royal, Virginia. As the parent of a toddler with Down syndrome, Brandon didn’t want to wait until his son was old enough to participate in Special Olympics before joining the movement. Brandon realized he could make a difference right now at his school.
In 2012 Brandon launched the Game of Respect to promote acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities and encourage students, staff and family members to pledge to stop using the word “retard” in a derogatory way. 818 students took the pledge!
Brandon also started a Unified Sports® league for students with and without intellectual disabilities. 29 students (14 students with ID & 15 general ed students) bowl in the fall and play cornhole and bocce in the winter. The school hopes to start a Unified track and field team this spring as a result of a Special Olympics Virginia partnership with the Virginia High School League.
About Val Reinford: Val Reinford joined Special Olympics Virginia’s staff in 1988. As the Vice President of Local Program Services, Val supervises eight Region Directors who provide support to the local programs and Project UNIFY® schools.