Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair. Sport speaks to people in a language they can understand.” Through my time at Pontiac, I have discovered just how true Mandela’s quote is. PTHS is recognized throughout the state, and even the country, for the inclusive and respectful environment we create. However, what truly sets us apart is our Unified Sports. I have been involved in Unified Sports since my sophomore year. As many of you know, I wrote and was approved for a grant that funded the creation of a Unified Basketball team. Prior to the creation of this team, I did not have a true understanding of the power of sports and all of the opportunities they bring. To start, not everyone was there for the same reasons. Some athletes were there because their teachers or coaches wanted them to be. Others came because they wanted to stay active through the winter. Some were there simply because they had nowhere else to go. However, by the end of the season, our purpose was one. Winning a state championship was amazing, but none of us were participating simply with the goal of winning. Gradually, we all realized the team and the game were bigger than us. We weren’t there to win, we were there to make a difference. We were making positive impacts on our teammates, in our school, and in our community every day. That is the goal of Unified Sports. However, Unified Sports has made just as big of an impact on me as I have on others. I have learned that inclusion is not just coexisting with people, but actively and openly accepting them and encouraging them to truly live their lives. I am far from perfect, but participating in Unified Sports has made me a better person and provided me with limitless opportunities to grow and develop. Returning to Nelson Mandela’s quote, sports truly do have the power to change the world. I have witnessed unity unlike any other through Unified Sports. I have seen people grow and change for the better, become more accepting and inclusive, and transform into wonderful young adults ready to change the world. I will leave you all with these words of encouragement. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to do something simply because of your fear of others’ thoughts. We all truly have the power to change PTHS, our community, and the world. After all, the only disability in the world is a bad attitude.