NEWTON (CBS) — At more than two dozen colleges in Massachusetts, some of life’s most priceless lessons — take place after school hours.
“I learned how awesome Liam is at basketball,” 12-year-old Connor said of his teammate with a beaming smile.
READ MORE: Hundreds of drivers wait hours for free gas in Norwood
On Thursday afternoon, students from Newton, Needham and Natick celebrated their stellar first season of unified basketball. The program already exists in many high schools, but with the help of Special Olympics, it is expanding to the college level.
Our neighbors and friends with developmental disabilities have faced additional hurdles throughout the pandemic. But they were brave. They conquered. And it’s so worth the applause.
“Being homeschooled, wearing a mask. They’re so programmed that anything that makes a difference is really hard for them. That’s the best,” said Fran Jonas, of her 7th grade grandson. year.
“I like making friends,” said 12-year-old Liam kindly.
Friendships that their typical teammates also cherish.
READ MORE: 25 years ago, the April Fool’s Day blizzard buried Massachusetts in a historic snowstorm
“I’ll see them in the room and it’s super nice because I’ve never met them before. They are the nicest kids and they have such bright smiles and they make you so happy,” said 8th grader Ling Silverstein.
“It makes my day to see them smile,” added Nikki Rao.
And none of this would be possible without their class coaches.
“I’m so proud to be one of their teachers. The future is bright thanks to these children behind me,” said Jim O’Donnell.
And their biggest, loudest fans – on and off the pitch.
NO MORE NEWS: To-do list: Red Bull Freestyle Dance Competition, New England Food Show, Ice Battle
“My mom is the best mom ever!” Lucas cried loudly.