No Lanes and Up and Down: Overcoming Obstacles

Dec 8, 2015 | character, Student Engagement

By Jo Ann Nishimoto, Hilo High School Teacher
and Terry Pickeral, president Cascade Educational Consultants.

Imagine training for a high school track meet on a track that has no lanes and rather than level is elevated at one end.

These were the circumstances unified (special and general education) athletes faced at Hilo High School (Hawaii) as they prepared for competition.

Fortunately, overcoming obstacles is nothing new for Jo Ann Nishimoto, a special educator at Hilo High School.  As she states:

“Yes we face lots of obstacles, but we all manage to forge ahead despite the adverse conditions.  Some days I had to draw makeshift lanes to accommodate our athletes.  Similar to real life we need to make adjustments to societal norms.  The track also symbolizes the struggles our students go through daily.  In fact some of our athletes ask ‘ how come we have to practice on a junk track while other delegations have nicer fields to practice on.’ I tell them that the harder the course is to run, the stronger they will be and the better they will perform.  It is similar to their lives; in that they have to work harder (physically/emotionally) than their general education peers and will likely face misperceptions of their abilities.  But in the end, their courage, perseverance, and hard work will build character.”

We can all learn from the Hilo High School students and the support they have from their adult allies.  As all of us face obstacles perhaps not as consistently obvious of those faced by the Hilo High School athletes.  The obstacles are not as important as how we address them, overcome them and use them to increase our problem-solving attributes and focus on creating conditions of success.

For more information on social inclusion and unified sports in schools please visit:

Terry Pickeral
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Terry Pickeral

Terry Pickeral, has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations, evaluation and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.
Terry Pickeral
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