High School Wheelchair Athlete Can Compete With Runners, For
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 19, 2006
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND--Competing in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens two years ago, Tatyana McFadden won a silver medal in the 100-meter dash and a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash for the U.S. team.
But until this week, the 16-year-old sophomore at Atholton High School could not compete for her own school's track team.
Her school, like countless others, refused to allow wheelchair athletes to race against runners.
But McFadden's family sued the district, with the help of the Maryland Disability Law Center, arguing that the rule violates Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federally funded programs and activities, such as public schools.
On Monday, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction, forcing the school to allow McFadden to compete at least through the rest of this season. A court will have to decide later whether the school -- and others across the state -- will have to allow wheelchair athletes on a permanent basis.
"This is important to me because I wanted to get the same thrill and the same experience as all the other high school students," McFadden, who has spina bifida, told the Baltimore Sun.
"There's no competition by myself. It was lonely and embarrassing, and I just didn't like it," she explained. "Other competitors would come up to me and they would say, 'Good race,' but it wasn't really a good race because I was running by myself."
"Disabled girl wins right to compete" (Baltimore Sun)
"Profile: Tatyana McFadden, wheelchair racing" (Baltimore Sun)