Connor McGovern's ABLE Games now taking off in area schools

TNT Kid's Fitness and Conor McGovern, a Shanley graduate, have now brought the ABLE Games into schools with a curriculum called ABLE in School.

Connor McGovern, center for the NY Jets, works with special needs students at South Middle School in Grand Forks, Monday.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News

GRAND FORKS — A new program in our region that teams special needs students with peer classmates is seeing big growth thanks, in part, to a well-known NFL center.

Connor McGovern's Able Games are set for the last weekend in March. The New York Jets player and former Shanley High School graduate brings in celebrity athletes who join to bring people of all abilities together for a unique fitness competition in Fargo.

But now, the Able Games has grown into a new curriculum with Able in School.

"Are we ready? Let's do our dynamic warm up," a South Middle School teacher announced to her physical education class in Grand Forks Monday, March 20.

You know it's going to be a good Monday in P.E. when an NFL star is taking part in your class.


McGovern and TNT Kid's Fitness got to see firsthand the success of ABLE in School in Grand Forks on Monday.

"Go,go,go," McGovern said, cheering on the teams of students.

Teaming up special needs students with their peer classmates to see this curriculum unfold, the program gets students moving, whatever the ability which leads to bigger, better things.

"What I found when I went out to schools and had done some assessments, there's these gaps. These gaps are children that can't get into the workforce, or trying to find where their niche is. This curriculum is allowing from school to work," said TNT Kid's Fitness Executive Director Kim Pladson.

For McGovern, who is days away from hosting the ABLE Games at North Dakota State University's Sanford Health Athletic Complex, this is a chance to see that premiere event transform into a curriculum and program that is now in 12 schools in our region.

"To see it in action and to see it coming to schools all over North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, and beyond is truly special," McGovern said.

For families who have children with autism and other special needs, Able in School is a game changer, according to a mother of one of the students engaged in the program.

"Everyone's learning that these kids can do anything that the other kids can do, we just need to adapt to them and learn," said Natasha Carlisle.


TNT says ABLE in School is perfect for small, rural schools especially, and can utilize the online curriculum to benefit even a few kids in a big way.

You can find out more on their website:

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email:
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
What To Read Next
Get Local