FALCONER – The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a formidable foe, but it hasn’t stopped one Falconer Central School District teacher from ensuring that students with special needs continue to gain confidence.
Temple Elementary School Kindergarten teacher Rich Bianco also helps organize events for the Exceptional Stars Athletes, a group that gives the opportunity to students with special needs to participate in athletic events that they normally would not have the chance to participate in.
During an interview Tuesday evening with WNYNewsNow, Bianco explained that the organization has been able to safely hold three different events during the pandemic. He says that the students have fared well despite the ongoing pandemic.
“The kids have been wonderful at our events just because nothing else is really going on right now,” Bianco said. “We’ve been able to take some safety protocols and provide three different events for them in a safe way. They’re excited. They show up and they’re ready to go whether it’s baseball, putt-putt, bowling, it doesn’t matter. They’re just super excited to be able to get out and participate just because it’s been a hard time for everybody. With nothing really going on, our events have been able to bring light to a tough situation right now.”
Bianco explains that the organizations annual baseball game, which was originally postponed but played in July, was pivotal to the students as the pandemic continued to bring uncertainty during the summer.
“The baseball game was really key for us. It’d been several months since everything shut down, and the athletes in our program missed out on Special Olympics, which is really their biggest day of the year for them,” Bianco said. “Our buddies were missing out on the sports they were participating in, and school.”
Bianco says that it was important for everyone to have the game take place.
The teacher says that the ESA looks to expand its genre of activities in 2021. For example, Bianco says the ESA and Falconer Fire Department are working to host an event to show students what tasks a firefighter can perform.
Overall, Bianco says the ESA has “big plans” for the future.