PALS Continues at Greylock (Interview)


PALS, or “Promoting Acceptance and Learning through Sports,” is a program where neurotypical MG students get paired up with students with special needs and participate in various sports and activities. The Echo spoke with Donna Narey, one of the co-founders of the program, about what it entails and benefits for those involved.

Echo: What is the mission statement of PALS and its ultimate purpose? A brief overview of the program would be helpful as well.

Donna Narey: PALS stands for Promoting Acceptance and Learning through Sports.  It’s a program Tara Barnes, 9th grader and Unified Basketball star Aidan Barnes’ mom, and I started along with support from our superintendent, Kim Grady.  PALS is similar to a Best Buddies Program where we pair up students with special needs with the typical high school to participate in sports such as kickball, swimming and bowling.  Students with special needs usually do not have access to sports like their typical peers, so this program allows students with disabilities to engage in an activity with support from our high school students and gain valuable social interaction as well.

Echo: What do you hope all participants of PALS gain from the program?

Narey: Our typical MG high school students who participate in Pals have the opportunity to gain an understanding of people with different abilities and develop friendships with students that they may not usually have the opportunity to engage with.  This benefits not just the typical student but the student with disabilities as well. It’s a win-win for all!

Echo: Why did you start PALS?

Narey: I started PALS because there were not any opportunities for my son, Cole, now a 7th grader here at MG, to participate in any athletic type activities.  I was taking him to Dalton to participate in a program at the Dalton CRA that included typical students from Waconah and thought that we have great kids in our community so why not enlist MG students in a similar type program.

Echo: If students want to participate or help organize events for PALS, where should they start and who should they contact?

Narey: We welcome students in grades 9-12 to join in anytime at any one of our events.  We typically do six weeks of kickball in the Fall and are now on break until December 2 when we plan to start bowling (our most popular event).  We plan to bowl for at least six weeks and hopefully longer every Sunday from 2 pm -3 pm. Students may show up, talk to a fellow student who participates or email me for details at