Des Moines Kids of All Abilities Come Together to Play and Break Down Barriers

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Flowing parachutes, crashing bowling balls and the laughter of hundreds of kids filled the air at Drake University on Thursday morning.  It all sounded and looked like fun and games but there there a serious life lesson also being taught.

Drake, Des Moines Public Schools and Special Olympics Iowa joined forces for the inaugural "DMPS Unified Sports Day."  On the surface it looked like a typical field day for around 300 middle school students.  However there was an important lesson being taught to the kids in the midst of the games.  Kids with intellectual disabilities were partnered with kids without disabilities for all of the games.  It's a continuation of other programs that Des Moines Public Schools carries on inside the classroom as well.

Organizers say the event can break down barriers between kids and teach them that everyone can and should be friends.  "This is a very special experience for our Special Olympics athletes and their unified partners who go to school together," says Bryan Coffey with Special Olympics Iowa, "What's so special about it is that its creating friendships, friendships that might not have existed prior to this experience."