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Utah First Lady Abby Cox celebrates champion Special Olympic schools



Utah’s first lady Abby Cox is working to showcase some exciting work happening in Utah schools through her “Show Up Utah” initiative.

Cox toured two Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools; Snow Springs Elementary School in Lehi, and Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs, where their efforts to promote what’s called the Special Olympics Unified Sports Program have not gone unnoticed.

Cox along with other educational leaders arrived at Westlake High on Wednesday to cheer on students participating in the program, which promotes inclusivity in K-12 schools for special needs students.

The program pairs students together as peer mentors to help promote friendship and success.

Macaden Lukey, a student at Westlake, is one of the many who have benefited from the program. His mom told 2News that she never expected her son would get a “normal high school experience”. Now a junior, Macaden has gone to prom, gets invited out on weekends and has a community that truly supports and cares about him.

“Macaden is the lacrosse manager this year. And he’s gonna suit up this Friday and play a little bit with us. And it’s just been so fun to connect with Macaden and all the other kids out here,” said Westlake senior Hunter Larsen.

Leaders say the work these programs promote goes well beyond a lesson that could come from any track, field or basketball court.

You can pretend to care but you cannot pretend to “Show Up” like these teachers and these students and these peers and these athletes who have shown up for each other and for this school for each other,” said Cox.

When the pandemic hit and the funding for education programs were threatened statewide some schools made the difficult decision to cut special needs programs.

Alpine schools chose not to do that and allowed the program to thrive.

Cox and other leaders said they’re working to get unified programs in every Utah school.

2News is told that another exciting announcement about a new fall program involving the Real Salt Lake Team and the “Show Up Utah” initiative will be coming soon.