Unified robotics fosters inclusion

Kaitlyn Keyes, Photography Editor

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Inclusion. Connection. Unification. These are the qualities that the Unified Robotics club strives to achieve—the qualities that they have now been recognized for.
On Sunday, November 17th, at the Unified Robotics Championship, the Liberty Unified Robotics team won the Foster Award.
The Foster Award is named for Delaney Foster, the founder of Special Olympics Unified Robotics. The award was created only this year, making the Liberty Unified Robotics team its first recipient.
“The Foster Award encourages every school, not just Liberty, to be more conscious of how their student body interacts with each other, and how we all interact on a daily basis,” senior club president Sam Faris said.
The Foster Award is given to teams and schools that demonstrate exemplary efforts in spreading all Unified Sports and programs.
“The award looks at how the Unified Robotics teams and their schools work within their community and school to promote inclusion,” club supervisor Tod Oney said. “For our school, we were recognized for expanding acceptance of Unified athletes in our community.”
The Liberty Unified Robotics team was created two years ago in 2018, and currently consists of five special needs athletes, and four partners. Being honored with this award has had a major morale booster for the team and its members.
“This award has really inspired us to work harder, and motivates the athletes, since they are being given with this award along with anyone else in Liberty,” junior member Pranuti Kalidindi said.
Being recognized as a Foster Award recipient also has a special implication for Liberty as a school and a community.
“Being presented with the award is a huge step forward, not only in bringing STEM to everyone, but also in motivating our school and showing it that this is something that the community really values: that it’s not something to be taken lightly,” Kalidindi said.
The award also serves as a testament to the Liberty Unified Robotics team’s efforts and the inclusive spirit of the Liberty community as a whole.
“Liberty has an incredibly diverse student body,” Faris said. “We all work hard to include all members of our community, and to foster a more Unified school.”
Going forward, the Robotics team hopes to help expand the Unified Robotics program through representation of Unified Robotics in competition.
“We’re working with Special Olympics right now to see if we can get a blue banner that we can show and promote Unified Robotics with at our competitions,” Oney said. “That way, other schools that might not have heard about Unified Robotics will see our banner and be encouraged to join the program.”