PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — High school students of all abilities across Philadelphia are celebrating a different sort of championship. It’s one that brings young adults together in competition and camaraderie to play the game of bocce.
It’s been weeks of training and competing to get to the division finals and now these students are working together to take home a win.
The competition includes 12 high schools with eight players per team — half with intellectual disabilities, the other half without.
“It taught me patience and teamwork and gave me a chance to see how independent they could be,” said Kalah Bester, of Strawberry Mansion High School.
These students trained for two months and competed in league days before getting to the division finals.
But it’s not just about winning.
“I did it before a long time ago and had a lot of fun,” said Ashanti Hines, of Thomas Edison High School.
“I want to make more friends here and try to get to know everybody, have a good time,” said Raniyah DeJesus, also of Thomas Edison.
There’s more to what you see here than winning medals. Special Olympics of Pennsylvania is promoting inclusion in schools.
“We find that once those friendships happen, there is less bullying in the schools,” said Kristin Craven, special events and marketing manager of Special Olympics of Pennsylvania.
And it seems to work.
“They want to be your friend and it never hurts to talk to them and be nice to them,” Bester said.
All in all, there’s still a win at stake and some are after it.
The winning team now goes on to compete for the state championship in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Second and third place get to visit the Phillies and play at Citizens Bank Park.
CBS3’s Alecia Reid reports.