BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A local family is giving praise to IDEA public school students and staff for making a student with autism feel part of the school community.

“My favorite sport is golf and basketball because you can help your teammate or not,” said Matthew Leos, a ninth grader with autism IDEA Robindale.

He loves playing sports, his parents make sure that his voice is heard and that he has the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in school related activities, including sports.

“My favorite part about basketball is I can support my teammates,” Leos said.

IDEA Athletic Coordinator Jose Garcia says Matthew has been part of the sports teams for years.

“It is important to have everybody belong in the group, being inclusive, you’re bringing everybody within a team within a family,” Garcia said.

IDEA Public Schools is not the only district embracing inclusion with sports, the Brownsville Independent School District began to implement Zariah’s law, with a interscholastic basketball league.

The law was passed in 2021 and relates to the creation of an inclusive sports program by the University Interscholastic League, so students like Matthew can have a chance to experience the thrill of competing in sports.