Special Olympics brings senior to DC

Seymour talks sports, Project Unify with politicians


Courtesy Jane Seymour

Senior Rachel Seymour shakes hands with Senator Elizabeth Warren at Capitol Hill, accompanied by Patti Doherty, Special Olympics Youth Engagement and Schools Manager.

Annie Campbell, Sports Editor

Youth Activation Council member and senior Rachel Seymour recently traveled to Capitol Hill to inform the Massachusetts congressional delegations, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, about how sports have influenced her life and her involvement in Project Unify.

Seymour, a special education student, is active in many athletics and social groups both in and out of sports. Her recent involvement in Project Unify has allowed her to share her passion with others.

“I am on the Youth Activation Council,” Seymour said. “I get to promote Project Unify in schools for kids with and without special needs.”

According to the Special Olympics website, the National Youth Activation Committee (YAC) is made up of young people from across the country who work together to promote school communities where all young people are agents of change.

“I recommended Rachel for the YAC because I thought that she would both make a positive contribution to the group as well as grow from the experience,” Class of 2015 alumni Lexie Koziel said. “I got to know Rachel through Unified Track. She was always very quiet, but very thoughtful and caring. I am so impressed and proud that she went to D.C. and participated in activities to promote Special Olympics.”

Seymour’s accomplishments and progress have impressed many members of the community.

“I have seen enormous progress and change in her as a person,” Unified Track coach and Best Buddies adviser Kevin Hausmann said. “She has grown in her maturity, her willingness to meet new people, and especially speaking out loud and talking about the things that are important to her.”

Senior Colleen Kasprzak is also a YAC member.

“It’s such a mix of people and it’s such a sense of belonging because despite having so many differences that would typically prevent friendships, we all get together for one common goal of unification and acceptance,” Kazperzak said. “We discuss how to implement different programs like unified sports, how to get fans in the stands for our games, or the R word campaign to help spread the word about inclusion in today’s world.”

She spoke with politicians, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, regarding Special Olympics and, more specifically, Project Unify.

According to the Special Olympics website, Project Unify is an education and sports-based strategy powered by an engaged youth community that increases athletic and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities, while creating communities of acceptance for all.

Algonquin participates in this worldwide initiative with the Unified Track and Basketball teams. Hausmann explained these teams have many positive effects on students with and without intellectual disabilities.

“Sometimes students with intellectual disabilities are not the first to join groups and belonging is something that makes you feel more important, so it is a self esteem booster as well,” Hausmann said.

“[Sports] are a lot of fun, they’re awesome and I like them,” Seymour said. “[Playing sports] gets me out of the house and keeps me active.”

Seymour is the captain of the Unified Track team and a member of the Unified Basketball team who embraces the team spirit.

“She is the type of person that with a fist bump and a smile your day just got better,” Hausmann said.