IHSA Creates State Finals for Athletes with Disabilities

The Illinois High School Association on Monday announced plans to launch a state finals pilot program in cross country, bowling, swimming and diving, and track and field for student-athletes with disabilities - an initiative that builds on years of accommodations for student-athletes with disabilities in regular and post-season competitions. The pilot program supplements the measures already taken by the IHSA to accommodate participants with prosthetic limbs, those in wheelchairs, those with visual or hearing impairments, and those with paralysis who currently compete in sports like basketball, gymnastics, golf, bowling, swimming, track and field, and cross country. "We've been actively engaged, listening to stakeholders, advocacy groups, parents, student-athletes and others to determine how to enhance opportunities for our student-athletes, all of our student-athletes," IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said in a statement. "We are confident that by working together, we will help raise awareness about the abilities of people with disabilities, and ultimately more parents, coaches and physical education teachers will encourage athletics for students with disabilities." The IHSA's decision comes less than one week after the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced that student-athletes in wheelchairs will be allowed to compete in eight track events at the state championship level beginning in 2013. Separate championship finals for boys and girls will be held in the 100 meters, 400 meters and 800 meters, plus the shot put. Participants will wear school uniforms and individual awards will be presented, but they will not score points for their school teams.

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