REF grant expands Unified Sports program to middle schools

Thanks to the Ridgefield Education Foundation (REF), disabled student athletes at both East Ridge and Scotts Ridge middle schools will get a chance to play sports next year.

The Board of Education unanimously accepted $13,000 worth of gifts from REF at its June 26 meeting — one of them was a $10,000 check to fund the Special Olympics Unified Sports program at both middle schools.

Unified Sports, which pairs special-needs athletes with their able-bodied peers, was first implemented in the spring of 2017 after receiving REF funding in February of that year.

The other REF donation the board accepted was $3,066 for the high school science department.

Pam Banks, the foundation’s president who presented the money in two checks to the board, said the money for the science department would go to supporting the Ridgefield Barcode project — a program meant to teach students the science of DNA barcode.

Board Chairwoman Fran Walton noted that the foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the schools through fundraising, spearheaded many of the programs that the schools now take for granted — the schools partnership with the Aldrich Museum among them.

“I think all the board appreciates all the work that the foundation does, so thank you,” Walton said.