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For the first time, St. Bonaventure University students had dual presentations with Special Olympics New York at the 81stAnnual NYS AHPERD Conference (New York State Association of Health, Physical Education Recreation and Dance), held Nov. 14-16 in Verona, New York.
In addition, St. Bonaventure student Abigail Lagoner received a Jay B. Nash Award as a Recognized Outstanding Major by the state association.
The conference presentations, titled “Unified Sports: Enlightening Schools Through Passionate Engagement of Sport,” were given by Physical Activity Club (PAC) officers Abigail Lagoner, Kerry McCarthy, Philippe J. “PJ” Neubauer, Andrew Garbacz and Charity Hammond, and PAC advisers Dr. Paula Scraba and Allison Barnes.
The Physical Activity Club’s first presentation consisted of a coaches panel with SBU students and colleagues from Special Olympics New York, including Nate Johnson, Bill Collins and Kyle Walsh. In addition, Unified Champion Schools with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, Jessica Byerwalters, a physical education instructor and coach from Amsterdam High School, and Athletic Director Michael Clonan from East Syracuse Minoa High School, shared details about their unified programs.
In the second part of their presentation, the St. Bonaventure students prepped the basketball court and officiated a demonstration game with two Unified Champion Schools, Whitesboro High School and Vernon Verona Sherrill High School.
For its efforts to advocate for Special Olympics, the Physical Activity Club was recognized as a Special Olympics College Club. An SO College Club functions as an official club on campus and connects college students and individuals with intellectual disabilities through sport to build friendships and help lead the social justice movement of Special Olympics. Like the PAC, an SO College Club is created by college students for college students; the network seeks the membership of campuses that seek the common goals of enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and building a more accepting world for all.
The highlight of this year’s conference was the recognition of Lagoner as a J.B Nash Outstanding Major, said Scraba. Lagoner is a physical education major and an NCAA Division 1 lacrosse player at St. Bonaventure. The Jay B. Nash Outstanding Major Award is given annually by the association to two undergraduate students for outstanding performance relevant to their preparation for the profession in the areas of health, physical education, recreation or dance. Lagoner, the first St. Bonaventure student to receive a J.B Nash Award, was nominated for the honor by Dr. Claire Watson, director of the university’s Public Health program, and Scraba, who is Lagoner’s academic adviser.
A second person with ties to St. Bonaventure was recognized at the state conference. Bob Kenney, the father of SBU Athletic Director Tim Kenney, received one of the Amazing People Awards for being the association member with the longest record of attending the conference and for serving in various leadership positions. Kenney has attended a total of 53 conferences.
PAC’s next major event will be sponsoring the SBU Polar Crew Team for the Polar Plunge into Lake Erie Dec. 1 at Orchard Park. Luke Collins is heading up the team with members of the men’s and women’s cross country/track team. This will be followed by a Special Olympics unified exhibition basketball game at halftime of the Dec. 7 women’s basketball game vs. Siena College.
About the University:The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #1 regional university value in New York and #2 in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.
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