Call me crazy, but I am up and out of bed every Sunday morning around 5:45 AM.

My goal is to bang out as much part time work — blogging and Tweeting and writing and planning and responding to email and preparing for presentations — as possible before my wife and daughter wake up and start moving.

One of the best parts of the morning is catching ESPN’s E:60 segments on the radio as I drive to the local bagel shop for a quick bite.

Often, the segments — which are designed to “tell the best stories in sports” — leave me hopeful and smiling and with tears in my curmudgeonly eyes because they focus on the efforts of students who are using sports to overcome serious challenges and to more fully participate in their worlds.

Need an example?

Then check out the segment I heard this morning on Mikey Brannigan — a nineteen year old autistic distance runner who set state and national records while running for Northport High School in New York:

Mikey’s story is beautiful because it dispels the myth that autistic students don’t want to be social.

In reality, autistic students have the same desire to fit in even if they aren’t always sure just how to do that.  For Mikey — who was always athletic, but always confused by the rules and norms and complex interactions of team sports — long distance running became an opportunity to interact and to contribute just like his peers who didn’t have autism.

Isn’t that a message that every kid in every classroom needs to hear?  And isn’t it possible that the powerful storytelling and video production that ESPN puts into each E:60 segment might be the perfect tool for capturing attention of kids who often underestimate their peers with disabilities?

Now, not ALL E:60 segments are about school-aged kids overcoming remarkable challenges through sports.  In fact, the landing page today has a feature on LeSean McCoy — an interesting choice given his recent legal troubles.

But spend a few minutes searching through the E:60 collections on YouTube or on the ESPN website, and you will find plenty of segments worth sharing with your students, including:

Catching Kayla — the story of Kayla Montgomery, a successful long-distance runner who struggles with multiple sclerosis.

Long Shot — the story of Owen Groesser, a thirteen year old boy with Down Syndrome who was completely embraced by his middle school basketball team and community.

Different — the story of Davan Overton, a kid from a small town south of Portland, Oregon with a condition that slows both his brain and his physical development who finally found a place to belong on his high school basketball team — his “huge group of brothers.”

Amazing stuff, right?  So drop everything and figure out a way to integrate these stories into the work that you do with the kids in your school.



Related Radical Reads:

Are Our Schools Safe Spaces for Kids who are Different?

Are YOU Standing Up for Tolerance?

Lesson: Would YOU Stand up to Injustice?

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