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C.C.A. Baldi Middle School, located at 8801 Verree Road, recently became the first middle school in Pennsylvania to receive a National Banner Unified Champion School from Special Olympics PA. — SUBMITTED PHOTO

C.C.A. Baldi Middle School has received a national honor for leading the charge for inclusive participation, while encouraging a deep sense of collaboration and respect for human dignity.

The school located at 8801 Verree Road, recently became the first middle school in Pennsylvania to receive a National Banner Unified Champion School from Special Olympics PA.

This recognition implies that Baldi has instituted programs directed at fostering social inclusion and has remained commitment to those programs over the years.

At least ten schools statewide and 121 others nationwide were honored along with Baldi of the Philadelphia School District. Since its inception in 2017, the Unified Champion Schools program has promoted social inclusion in sports and youth leadership.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania president Matt Aaron said the organization is “thrilled to have the third-highest number of schools honored this year among the 121 recognized in 36 state programs.”

According to Aaron, “Baldi was the pilot for our middle school model that establishes a feeder pattern of Special Olympics programming within its learning network.”

A press release issued Monday by the Philadelphia School District explained that Baldi embraced the concept of creating a continuum of engagement and inclusive school culture for students with and without disabilities within their shared community. Baldi, it said, currently has several special education programs that are focused on creating a continuum of engagement.

“We are proud to have the first middle school in the state to receive this distinction as we continue to build our efforts on creating the most positive and inclusive school climates possible,” said William R. Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. “Our leadership and staff at Baldi and across the district are committed to providing opportunities for all students to participate in sports and recreational activities through unique programming models.”

Also honored along with Baldi were Abraham Lincoln and George Washington High Schools.

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