Daniel Meyerson, an eighth-grader at Western Hills Middle School, has been named one of 10 “Be Fearless Be Kind” award-winners in the nation.
The award celebrates youth in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools across the country and is given out by Special Olympics in conjunction with Hasbro, Inc.
Meyerson was nominated in the fall by his unified basketball coach and WHMS adaptive Physical Education teacher, Dina Cesana, as someone who fit the criteria of being a student that takes action in their school to end discrimination of youth with intellectual disabilities and to help create a more inclusive school culture.
In a recent press release, Cesana was quoted as saying, “Daniel is a true example of a selfless leader to advocate for inclusion of students in all activities within our school and community. We are very proud and excited that he is receiving the ‘Be Fearless Be Kind’ award.”
Meyerson plays on the school’s Unified Basketball team and takes the time to help the students in Cesana’s Adaptive Physical Education class during a flexible time slot in his schedule, called Performance Skills.
“We were one of the newer middle school Unified basketball teams last year,” said Meyerson. “We had matches every Thursday and practices on Tuesdays and we play other unified teams at other schools over a period of six or seven weeks. Other Cranston middle schools also have unified teams.”
According to Meyerson the team consists of both athletes and helpers, and as one of the helper students, he is one who can sometimes shoot and score a point to help the athletes.
Daniel’s mom, Sue, is an occupational therapist therapist for Warwick Public Schools and is familiar with unified sports. She and her husband Howard are proud of their son’s involvement in the physical education class and with the basketball team.
“His older brother, Jacob, was involved with a similar type of baseball team a while back, and Daniel used to go and watch them play,” she said. “We knew earlier in the school year that he was being nominated, but we had no idea that only ten students across the country were given this award. We are so proud of him.”
In addition to the title recognition Daniel has received, his school will also receive $1,000 to be used towards Special Olympics Unified Schools programming at Western Hills Middle School.
“I always used to tell our kids that I don’t care about anything else, as long as they were kind,” said Sue. “I don’t care what you do for a living or anything else, as long as you’re a good person.”
As Daniel moves on through the rest of his middle school year, and on to high school next year, he will be considering other unified opportunities as he sees what his schedule will permit going forward.