Unified Champions club comes to Johnson


Jordan Henry

The Unified Champions club met after school on Oct. 19 to paint pumpkins for Halloween.

Trevor Wall, Staff Writer

Unified Champions, an organization dedicated to the inclusion of special education in sports and school life as a whole, has partnered with Johnson to help everyone be aware of everybody in the school, no matter their situation in learning. 

“This has been years in the making,” special education teacher Alexis Montemayor said. “Our adaptive PE coaches have been telling me about Unified Champions since I came to Johnson three years ago. They were talking about how this is something they want to get approved, but it’s a process. Last spring, before the year ended, the coaches presented Unified Champions in front of the school board and they approved it. Once I heard the ‘Yes’, I didn’t know what it was going to look like and what the journey was going to be, but I wanted to be a part of it.”

The president of the Unified Champions club, Campbell Brown, is looking forward to getting more inclusion in the school for special education. 

“Overall, we want to inform other people that we are all the same,” Brown said. “I want to see people try to interact and make more of an effort to get to know our students and come to all of the activities and events.”

Being close to a cousin with dyslexia, Montemayor has been involved with people that need more help in school since she was young, and was motivated to keep working with them through high school and her career.  

“I’ve always liked doing ‘people’ work,” Montemayor said. “When I was in high school, I was in Key Club, which was pretty much the school’s version of LEO club, or just community service. We would host a Halloween party every year for the special education students, and I loved it because it opened up my eyes and showed me that these kids were no different from me.”

So far, Disney Karaoke, pumpkin painting with art club, and the ice cream social have been hosted under Unified Champions, with more events and gatherings planned for the rest of the year. 

“The next big event I am trying to pull off is to be a part of the Buda Christmas parade because it’s the holidays, and the best time of the year,” Montemayor said. “I think that is something they would love, having a whole bunch of spirit and decorating a float, and it would be super awesome to see that representation for the city.”

Jackie Hooks, another special education teacher who has had her life changed for the better by working with her students, is also on board with Unified Champions and is excited for the changes that will come with it. 

“I would want to see the peer support program grow, where it is so competitive, that so many kids want to be in the class that they have to fill out an application, and it’s more official,” Hooks said. “I would also love to see more students going to cheer our kids on in the Special Olympics, that would be great to see the school support at the events rather than just at the school. Every event they have, a large group of people there to cheer them on.”