Wayzata Students Stress the Importance of Inclusion
Wayzata High School is known for its academic reputation, but even the smartest and brightest can’t turn down an opportunity to sign up for a gym class that involves being outside on a beautiful day.
“It just shows by the number of kids that sign up for this class and can’t get in. It’s full. All year,” said Mike Doyle, Wayzata’s adaptive physical education teacher.
The class is full, not just because the students get to play bocce ball outdoors, but because this Unified Physical Education class mixes general education students like Mimi Schrader with special education students like Joey Sueker.
“Before my sophomore year, I didn’t really know a lot. We didn’t pass each other in passing time,” Schrader said. “And so this is the first time I really got to meet them and get to know them. And now I see them in the hallways, and a simple ‘hello,’ it makes my day and it also makes their day.”
“I’ve enjoyed being in this class and doing all the fun activities,” Sueker said.
Unified PE is now in its third year. It’s a class that came about after staff at Wayzata decided that physical education would be the best place to unite the populations.
“They can learn how to cooperate. They can learn how to problem solve. They can learn how to communicate,” Doyle said.
Students Wanted To Do More
Yet Schrader wanted more, so she helped establish ‘Club Unified Students,’ also known as ‘Club US.’
The organization creates opportunities both inside and outside of school for the two populations to be together.
“I’ve seen our lunchroom change,” Schrader said. “Kids used to sit by themselves in the lunchroom, and now they’re scattered all across the lunchroom, eating with their new friends. So stuff like that is just what makes it worth it.”
Meanwhile, Sueker is an active member of Club US, but this duo’s involvement in the cause extends beyond the walls of Wayzata High School.
Schrader and Sueker also serve on the student board of Special Olympics Minnesota. This past summer, the two delivered the keynote speech at the National Student Council Conference, where they talked about the importance of inclusion.
“We plan weekend outings like going out for ice cream, going out for movies,” Schrader said during the conference.
The ultimate goal with the unified movement is to create a culture shift that changes how people judge and treat those with disabilities.
“Because everyone’s a person. Everyone has feelings,” Schrader said. “And to not feel included is something that no one wants.”
Schrader, by the way, is also a star basketball player. She’s committed to play basketball at the United States Naval Academy, and then serve in the military after graduation.
Meanwhile, Sueker says he’d like to one day get a job with Special Olympics.