March 15, 2021

Youth Voice: Lauren Granieri

Hello, my name is Lauren Granieri, and I am a freshman at Niagara University majoring in Special Education. Growing up, I always knew that I was going to attend Niagara University.  Living in Niagara Falls my whole life, I have attended many NU basketball and soccer games and played on their tennis courts. The decision to go to Niagara University was influenced by my childhood, as well as my experience with Unified Sports.

Unified Sports is a program where both general and special education students play games such as bowling and basketball together on the same team. In my sophomore year at Niagara Falls High School, this program was introduced to spread inclusion and awareness about the special education program. However, it was not until my junior year when I met the person who would change my life forever: DJ.

In our first bowling match, I was partnered with DJ, and since then we have been an inseparable pair. After my first year of Unified Sports, I wanted to learn more about special education and the students like DJ that I had bonded with on the unified team. I visited the special education classrooms every day during my study hall my junior year until my school created an independent study for me to do this officially my senior year. I went into the special education classes for an hour each day and learned hands-on what it is like to be a special education teacher. This was an extremely rewarding experience because it helped me realize that my goal in life was to become a special education teacher, and I credit Unified Sports for introducing me to this amazing field that I have grown to love.

Without Unified Sports, I do not know where I would be today, but I have a hard time believing that it would be a better place. Finding my calling for the special education field enabled me to go to my dream school, and it introduced me to DJ and so many other kids that have changed my life for the better. I could not be happier that I get to work with DJ and other kids like him for the rest of my life.

If you know a youth who might be interested in writing about their youth sports experience, contact