During the 2013-2014 school year, 425 elementary school children in Milwaukee with and without intellectual disabilities participated in Special Olympics Young Athletes™ to improve their sports skills such as walking, running, balancing and jumping, trapping and catching, throwing and kicking.
On Thursday, May 15, Special Olympics Wisconsin hosted a Culminating Event at Marquette Helfaer Recreation Center for students at four Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) so they could celebrate their achievements and demonstrate the skills they learned.
Each athlete rotated through eight different skill stations and completed a total of 24 activities. After they completed all the stations, they received a ribbon and certificate.
According to teachers, the inclusive nature of Special Olympics Young Athletes is a great way to foster understanding and friendships among students with and without disabilities at an early age.
“Many kids go home at the end of the day to watch TV or play on the computer and Young Athletes may be the only time of their day/week they are practicing things like co-ordination, balance and strength,” said Kristie Jeffrey, a MPS School Nurse from Manitoba School. “The kids do not receive any physical education in our district, so I especially see the benefits for them.”
Between activities, the children visited volunteer health professionals to receive free oral health screenings and fluoride varnishes as part of Special Olympics Special Smiles® in partnership with Delta Dental.
For more information about Young Athletes or Special Smiles, please visit SpecialOlympicsWisconsin.org.