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Valley Roundup | Reseda

High School Athletes Visit Disabled Youth

May 13, 2000|KARIMA A. HAYNES

For a moment Friday afternoon, the playing field was level for developmentally disabled students at Lokrantz School as they romped with members of the Van Nuys High School football team and cheerleading squad.

The ability gap between the athletic teens and the disabled elementary school children seemed to narrow as they tossed footballs, waved pom-poms and ran a Hula-Hoop obstacle course.

The gathering marked the third time in as many years that students from the two schools have met at Lokrantz for an afternoon of fun and games, organizers said.

"When you get the kids together the differences melt away," said Lokrantz Principal Mary Beth Meyer, watching the younger children squeal in delight as the cheerleaders held them aloft.

"We are such a different school from them and they are such a different school from us," she said. "I like to see the interaction."

Special education teacher Ronda Kalan came up with the idea to bring the students together as a way to teach the younger kids about sports and expose the teens to teaching careers, Meyer said.

Kalan's husband, Steve, a teacher and assistant football coach at Van Nuys, has seen to it that team members make the trip to the elementary school campus every year.

"I love being with the kids," said quarterback Luis Arreola, 16, sitting on a classroom floor when the games were over.

"I feel kind of sad because I love football and they are missing out on the sport and other things," he said. "I tried to show them a little about the game."

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