Unified Spotlight: Faith Kaltenbach

Written by Faith Kaltenbach

My IUS story has been nothing less than amazing. During my junior year of high school, the Butler Area School District decided to become involved in the Unified Bocce program. I was hesitant to join at first. I was nervous about interacting with the students with disabilities, not to mention that I had no clue how to play bocce. Despite my doubts, I decided to join the team anyways and couldn’t be happier that I did. In fact, I enjoyed my first year of bocce so much that I decided to play again my senior year.

Faith (first row, third from the left) is pictured with her bocce team

These two short seasons were full of so many amazing memories. One of my favorite memories involves creating catch phrases for the game. For example, our one teammate would always yell, “Cut it ouutttttt”, each time one of the bocce balls hit the back wall. His energetic tone soon became contagious and this phrase became a saying that the whole team would repeat. It was a cool way to let loose and have fun at our practices. It even became an award that we would give away at our banquet, called the “Cut It Out Kenny Award.”

On the team, we recognized that we are all unique individuals with special talents to contribute. It was never a division between “us” and “them,” it was just us.

Faith Kaltenbach, on her Unified Bocce team

The memories of these seasons extended beyond the court and into the halls of our school. I think that everyone on my team would agree that the best part about bocce was the people who we played it with. Each player had a nickname that reflected something unique about them. We did not limit these nicknames to the game, but referred to each other by these names in the halls, usually greeting each other with a high five. These simple gestures broke down the walls of separation in our school. It showed people that the students with disabilities were no different from those without disabilities. On the team, we recognized that we are all unique individuals with special talents to contribute. It was never a division between “us” and “them,” it was just us.

We, as one team, worked together to do one thing….to win! I am now a freshman in college and have the opportunity to referee at the bocce games. I was not hesitant at all to accept this opportunity. To me, being a referee is a way to stay involved in the program and advocate for inclusive sports within the school setting. This program is important to me as it shows that students with disabilities don’t need to be separated. Seeing the changes that IUS has made in my high school is incredible. It destroyed barriers and spread the word of inclusion, opening doors for other inclusive clubs and activities. My IUS story isn’t over yet, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is a proud sponsor of Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s IUS program.

Published by

Special Olympics Pennsylvania

The mission of Special Olympics Pennsylvania is to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

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