Partners Club: The Power of Inclusivity

Matthew Salazar, Reporter

Partners Club began with Special Olympics’ mission of inclusivity. Special Olympics is the world’s largest sport organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics was founded in 1968 and Partners Club grew out of it in the 1990’s. The mission was to bring Special Olympic athletes and support special athletes in high school.

At West High, Partners Club starts every Wednesday in room 38 during lunch. Temperance Tinker, a West teacher who has been teaching for 12 years, has been in the club since she began teaching at West. She got involved in the club when she helped with skiing and snowboarding.

When asked why she is involved in Special Ed if she teaches Regular Ed Tinker replied, “I love teaching Regular Ed, but I also find a lot of inspiration around students who experience disabilities because their attitudes are often better then General Ed students’ attitudes and its inspiring.”

The start date of Partners Club is unsure, but Tinker knows that it started a long time ago, but doesn’t know who the original founder of the club was. “I know Mrs. Ardy was involved in it at one point. It’s been going on at West for like, at least 15 years.” According to Tinker, “Partners Club is the happiest place out of all of West, whenever you go in to room 38, you leave with a smile no matter if you’re happy or not when you went there.”

The sports of bowling, floor hockey, basketball, and track are the sport of choice for Partners Club. Special Olympics exists to create recreational activities for students with or without disabilities and you don’t even need to wear gear in order to play. Tinker has really enjoyed the relationships and the fun that she has been able to have with students with all different kinds of abilities and has enjoyed that room 38 isn’t a scary place for anybody at West High and that everybody is welcomed in it.

Eric Camp is a Special Ed teacher who has been teaching for five years and has been involved with Partners Club for four years. Camp doesn’t exactly know what inspired him to become a Special Ed teacher, but felt like it was his calling to become one because he loves working with kids. Camp wants the students to understand kids with disabilities. “They are not as different as they may think, they’re just as fun, exciting, and more capable then they think as well,” he says.

Alyssa Samson, a freshman, joined Partners Club to help the community, meet new people, and to become more social. Samson’s favorite part about Partners Club is meeting everyone and learning about disabilities. Joining the club has given her a different outlook and gave her an understanding with kids with disabilities.

Partners Club exists to educate those who have a misconstrued idea of individuals with disabilities and to allow everyone to feel a part of something without judgement. “I have cousins with autism, but I don’t think I have any friends,” Samson says. Partners Club has inspired Samson to be a better person and care more about people. Samson will continue being in this club on the future and believes that more kids should join Partners Club.