GREAT KIDS: Students learn about the power of connections inside and outside of the classroom

Breakthrough North Magnet School on Hartford’s North End has started a new physical education class.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:33 PM EST
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Breakthrough North Magnet School on Hartford’s North End has started a new physical education class.

It’s not just focusing on physical activity, but also emotional connections between students as well.

P.E. teacher Heather Gop said this is unified sports. It’s the first year in the Hartford District for the popular program.

“They come down here once a week,” Gop said. “We have a group of a dozen regular education students, and we have about 9 goals or special need students partner with them.”

The special needs students play with 5th graders like Mario Simpson who volunteered to become a student mentor in this class.

Simpson said, “I can help kids and teach them about sports.” He was interviewed and then matched with a special needs student with the same interests.

“Ms. Gop assigns kids every time to bond in a relationship, so we can teach them games,” Simpson said.

All student mentors went through the same matching process.

Charlie-Ann is a student mentor who said she’s also helping students learn through playing.

“I’m with this girl named Anya,” Charli-Ann said. “I’m teaching her about her colors and numbers, and she’s getting good at it.”

Gop said that the beauty in those connections is that they exist even outside of the class.

“What’s happened is, it fosters relationships throughout the building,” Gop said. “When they see each other in the hallway, they smile and get excited on both ends.”

Smiles and fun are what this is all about for a group of kids learning the power of connections.