APE Day brings joy to all


Emily Berthiaume, Editor-in-Cheif

Students and teachers from every CCISD school and grade level gathered at Walter Hall Park on March 3 to participate in the annual Adapted P.E. Day, a fun-filled day of games, dancing, and fun runs. PALs from every CCISD high school set up and operated booths, while members of the Best Buddies club were paired one-on-one with a student for the duration of the day.

For more than 30 years, Adapted P.E. Day has existed to give CCISD students with disabilities a field day full of activities accessible to students with all ability levels and physical limitations. The Clear Creek PAL, or Peer Assistance and Learning, students ran soccer, golf, bowling, and football booths, each one designed especially for students with disabilities.

Senior PAL Carolina Sarria worked at the soccer station. “It was really cool getting to see how excited kids got when they made a goal. We had kids in wheelchairs come up and make a goal. It was really rewarding to see how happy everyone was,” she said.

Other booths included face painting, inflatable bounce houses, and snow cones. A fun run for each school level gave every student a chance to earn a medal and participate in an active event.

As students walked around to every booth, they had an opportunity to play as many games and activates as they wished.

“I was paired with Daniel (LAST NAME) which was really nice and new,” senior Best Buddies member Arbera Bedini said. “He is non-verbal, so it is different because you can’t communicate as easily as you can with some kids. However, it’s not a barrier at all because he listens and you can tell by the reactions he has and his facial expressions, and he does know sign language.”

The pair enjoyed many of the fun activities APE Day had to offer.

“I could tell he didn’t like the noise as much, but the activities he really enjoyed,” Bedini said. “He also liked getting away from some of the activity and just relaxing. His favorite thing to do was sit on the park benches. And he really loved the swings. We went over by the swings a couple times and he really liked that.”

Best Buddies Clear Creek chapter president Lisa Nhan was paired with Alejandro Sarria.

“Alejandro has the biggest sweet tooth I’ve ever seen on anyone, so his favorite thing in the whole world was the snow cones,” Nhan said. “We would walk around the park, but he would always orient himself back to the snow cone booth, slowly starting to walk over there and standing in front of it. We ended up getting two snow cones because he was obsessed.”

At the end of the day, students, Best Buddies, and PALs from every CCISD school came together to dance to fun songs such as The Cupid Shuffle or The Macarena. This part of the day is extremely special because students of every school and every range of ability come together to dance and have a good time, not caring what they look like or what people are thinking.

“My favorite part of the day is always the end portion when everyone goes to dance because it’s nice seeing everyone get together,” Nhan said. “There’s that expression ‘dance like nobody’s watching’, and I feel like that moment exemplifies that expression because everyone there is focused on having fun and having a good time and accepting each other. No one is judging each other for how they’re expressing themselves.”

APE Day is unique in that it celebrates differences and abilities in all students.

“APE Day is a time for the kids to have fun, but it’s also a confidence booster,” Sarria said. “They get to see ‘oh, I am loved. Oh, I do matter. All this is for us.’”

Throughout the day, many wonderful moments occur that matter greatly to the students.

“I have a PAL who has Dandy-Walker Syndrome, so it’s hard to him to walk and do other physical activities,” senior PAL member Jessica Ransom said. “While I was at APE Day, I was setting up our basketball booth and he sees me from across the field and yells “Jessica!” and I turn around and he’s running towards me. It was like a scene from a movie, we gave each other the biggest hug and I had tears in my eyes. It was the best moment ever.”

The Best Buddies club has greatly influenced many students at Clear Creek in positive ways.

“Best Buddies has taught me that you can be friends with anyone,” Bedini said. “It doesn’t matter who they are or where they came from, or what they do. It’s up to you to make decisions about who your friends are and how good of a person you want to be.”

Nhan echoed the sentiment.

“Best Buddies has allowed me to create bonds and relationships with people who I otherwise would not have been able to meet. It’s taught me about how it’s so much more important to let our difference bring us together rather than create boundaries. At the end of the day, Best Buddies is about being a better person to other people and I don’t think there’s a lot of clubs like that.”