The Cole High School IMPACT (Inspiring Miracles: Parents and Children Together) Partners have set the standard for inclusion programs for those with special needs. This organization was started in 1999, by a senior who was troubled by the isolation of the special needs students on campus. The original program allowed six IMPACT Partners to visit special needs students in the self-contained classroom once a week. Currently the program has 95 members, with 90 juniors and seniors, which represents 71% of the upper-class population at Cole High School. Their actual accomplishments are reflected in three ways: on campus, in the community and through the promotion of inclusion.
On campus, the Partners operate a wide variety of innovative “stations” throughout the week that introduce new concepts, provide academic support, or support social interaction and inclusion. Junior High and Elementary Reading provides reading assistance and mentorship to 7th graders and elementary students with autism. Music Partners features an “instrument of the week,” guest student musician and hands-on sessions. Audio Recording provided recorded books for students with reading issues and the visually impaired. Other “stations” include Braille Training, Enrichment Partners, Lunch Partners, Vocational Classroom, Sign Language Training, Visual Assistance and Work Site Partners.
As a part of the IMPACT organization, the Partners meet the needs of the community by coaching basketball, baseball and bowling for special needs children. They participate and assist with the community Easter Egg Hunt, the Mini Marathon for children, the annual IMPACT Olympics and the Annual Christmas Party. Since their support is so critical to the success of every activity, the IMPACT Partners ongoing involvement has resulted in the establishment of a year-round schedule of activities, either directly for, or including divisions for special needs children.
The mobilization for volunteer service to this student volunteer organization is reflected in its own growth. Additionally, IMPACT Partners have helped recruit other organizations to participate in activities with the special needs youth in the community. Cole High School JROTC Cougar Battalion will assist IMPACT Olympics in March. The San Antonio Raiders AAU National Basketball Team will participate in the baseball program. Members of the 1999 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs will play ball with the IMPACT Spurs in February.