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Play Unified Club of Chatham, NJ off to a great start for its 8th year

Play Unified Club of Chatham, NJ off to a great start for its 8th year

Chatham, NJ - For eight years, Chatham High School and the ECLC School of New Jersey have been partnered up through the Play Unified Club at Chatham High School. ECLC is a school for students with intellectual disabilities from many towns in New Jersey, which aims to prepare its students for a seamless transition into careers. At Chatham High School, 220 students participate in the Play Unified Club to enjoy social, academic, and athletic activities with students from ECLC.


The fall session of the club’s biggest event, the Teen Nights, has recently come to a close. For an hour and 30 minutes every Tuesday night for four weeks, Chatham High School and ECLC students hung out together dancing, playing, and drawing the night away. Two hundred and twenty Chatham High School students and 55 ECLC students attended this fall, which is an all-time high for membership at any activity for both ECLC and Chatham High School.


A co-president of the club and current Chatham High School junior, Julia LeRoy, noted, “[Play Unified] has grown extremely fast (almost quadrupling) with CHS students and ECLC students together. With this expansion, it shows that people truly do love the relationships they have formed.”


It’s no mystery why the event is so well-attended: Chatham High School students and ECLC students can both be heard saying that the Teen Nights are the highlight of their week and that they never want the night to end.


The Play Unified fall soccer season was also widely successful. Although the statewide Shriver Cup Tournament was canceled due to rain, the club hosted soccer practices every Sunday and held a Play Day for the Ridge and Millburn teams on November 4th.


All of the sports that the club participates in offer students from both schools a unique experience. The Chatham students aren’t there to mentor or coach the ECLC students; instead, they participate to play a fun, competitive game of soccer with their friends from both ECLC and Chatham. Alexa Riso, the club’s other co-president and Chatham High School senior, said, “Play Unified is a club that gives people an opportunity to feel included, accepted, and create connections that will flourish into beautiful friendships.”


The club has been able to carry on such great programs with such large membership thanks to the grant they have received from the Special Olympics for the past three years. This grant plays a critical role in the club’s ability to hold events that are meaningful for each school’s students and is awarded to clubs who truly embody the Special Olympics mantra of complete inclusion.


For more information visit the Special Olympics at and ECLC at