2019 PEP Prentiss Super Bowl
On Oct. 17 students from PEP Prentiss Autism Center had the chance to do something that’s a rite of passage for many high schoolers: participate in a high school football game. The game, known as the PEP Prentiss Super Bowl, is an important part of the school year for the students at PEP Prentiss. Students at PEP Prentiss all have autism or other complex developmental disabilities, and might otherwise not be able to participate in organized sports. The game, now a tradition in its fifth year, is one of many ways PEP Prentiss Autism Center blends center-based instruction with community-based experiences.
“Events like the PEP Prentiss Super Bowl give kids the opportunity to enhance their learning with invaluable positive mental health experiences. It teaches inclusion, camaraderie and genuine pride,” explained David Weiss, an occupational therapist at PEP Prentiss. “Everything from the crowd, the cheerleaders, the band, and the action on the field gives our kids a chance to be successful and experience the joy of a high school football game. That joy also extends to our families. Many of them are getting to root in the stands for their children playing a sport for the first time. For our kids and families who are faced with so many challenges it’s so much more than just a game.”
Super Bowl Brings Community Together
The day is also special because of the sense of community it creates. As in years past, the 2019 PEP Prentiss Super Bowl was made possible through the support of Cuyahoga Heights High School. Superintendent Tom Evans, graciously offered the CHHS stadium as the venue for the game and encouraged CHHS students to cheer on the teams during their lunch breaks. Before the game began, all the spectators rose to their feet as a PEP Prentiss student sang the National Anthem. Cheerleaders from Cuyahoga Heights cheered from the sidelines and the band played rousing pep tunes from the stands. Parents volunteered to open the concession stand and there was even an announcer on hand to call plays from the press box. In other words, the PEP Prentiss Super Bowl isn’t just special for the PEP Prentiss students. It’s special to the entire community.
PEP Prentiss Featured on Fox 8
“This is a day the kids look forward to all year,” said Darlene Kelly, PEP Prentiss Principal. “At PEP, one of our goals is to build on the existing strengths of students. We do all kinds of programming to make sure that happens but there really is something special about this game. During the PEP Prentiss Super Bowl, some of the things we tend to struggle with on a day to day basis, just don’t happen. It’s just a very happy occasion for all of us.”