MPS SCHOOL-BASED ADAPTIVE ATHLETICS— TEAM MILWAUKEE
MPS School-Based Adaptive Athletics is a cross-categorical, competition-based athletics program for students with disabilities who attend Milwaukee Public Schools. Walt Whitman is proud to participate in this richly rewarding program. The program was founded in 1972 as the MPS Special Olympics program in order to provide competitive athletics opportunities for MPS students with primary cognitive disabilities. The program started in three MPS schools and eventually expanded, as the population of students grew, to numerous other schools. By 1988, MPS had a total of 277 registered Special Olympics athletes with cognitive disabilities and was an accredited Special Olympics agency.
The program continued to grow over the next several years as athletes competed in both school-day events sponsored by MPS and weekend events hosted by Special Olympics. In 2005, the program was changed from primarily serving students with cognitive disabilities and orthopedic impairments. The program now coincides with the special education direction of the district, serving a cross-categorical population that incorporates
students of varying disabilities ranging in age from 6-21 years. During the 2008-09 school year, nearly 2,000 MPS students with disabilities from 63 MPS schools participated in at least one of the 25 different events offered. Participating athletes have the opportunity to compete in bowling, volleyball, team basketball,
basketball skills, bocce, track and field, and Sports Challenge Day for students with multiple and significant disabilities. MPS also has 325 athletes registered to compete at weekend events with Special Olympics Wisconsin. The program utilizes approximately 800 MPS high-school student volunteers each year to help run events and hosts several of the tournaments in MPS high-school field houses.
The MPS School-Based Adaptive Athletics program is currently placing an emphasis on the idea of inclusive programming through a unified summer program which consists of two components:
- 1. The first is an afternoon enrichment program for students with and
without disabilities. The primary focus is on nutrition and physical fitness
as a means of combating summer boredom, juvenile violence/arrest,
childhood obesity, and discrimination against students with disabilities.
Additionally, there will be a volunteering element to emphasize the
importance of youth investing in their communities.
- 2. The second component is a unified basketball league that plays four
evenings a week. The league will comprise up to 12 teams, including
athletes with and without disabilities, that will practice and compete
together. The program, which is geared towards males between the ages
of 15 and 21, will promote further participation in sports via interscholastics,
MPS Adaptive Athletics, and Team Milwaukee.
When MPS Adaptive Athletics athletes graduate, they are encouraged to continue on with the MPS community-based Special Olympics program called Team Milwaukee, which is an accredited Special Olympics agency and serves approximately 260 athletes in 11 different sports. Athletes participating in Team Milwaukee currently range in age from 8 to 65. School-aged athletes with primary cognitive disabilities who attend schools that do not have an MPS Adaptive Athletics program component are eligible to practice and
compete with Team Milwaukee alongside other MPS graduates and adult athletes. The Milwaukee Board of School Directors recognizes and honors MPS School-Based Adaptive Athletics and MPS Community-Based Special Olympics — Team Milwaukee for their dedication, outstanding leadership, and commitment to excellence on behalf of the students of the Milwaukee Public Schools.