Special Olympics 2016
by Hannah Widerman on Friday, May 13th, 2016
Hana Widerman ‘19
Special Olympics Massachusetts is an organization that provides year-round sports training, as well as athletic competition, to athletes with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics is attempting to decrease the isolation of students with intellectual disabilities, especially at schools where they are the most prone to bullying. The opportunity to engage and compete in a sport with other students gives people with disabilities a chance to develop their confidence and focus on what they can achieve, instead of what they cannot. In addition to providing the track for the athletes’, volunteers at Milton Academy will help run the track meet on Sunday, May 15.
Since its first event in 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago, the Special Olympics has since grown to host events in a total of 170 countries. Still expanding, this organization has provided 4.5 million people, both children and adults, with year-round training and local competitions. Hoping to dispel any misconceptions about people with intellectual disabilities, the Special Olympics website not only points out common rumors about ID (intellectual disabilities), but also commends the accomplishments of its participants. According to the website, 85 percent of people with ID have a mild form of a certain disability that does not hinder them from playing sports, going to school, or being employed. Reinforcing the capability of its participants, the Special Olympics provides intellectually disabled athletes with the opportunity to explore sports in a competitive, fun environment.
Every Sunday, Milton students volunteer at the Special Olympics practices. According to Christy Zheng (IV), a volunteer for the Special Olympics, they “almost act like coaches: running with and supporting the athletes.” Some of the athletes do not get to talk to kids their age at school, so it’s also nice for them to talk with the volunteers. Another volunteer, Pierce Wilson (IV), explained how “we get opportunities to have relationships with athletes.” According to Elaine Wu (IV), this opportunity is “unique, especially if you’re a boarder, because you do not usually meet people from outside the Milton Bubble. This experience can also help you get to know the community outside of Milton Academy.”
Although it’s been a little dreary the past week, we can all benefit from some fresh air and a bit of exercise. There are also many emotional benefits to reap from this experience. Christy Zheng (IV) says that she feels “a sense of accomplishment when [the athletes] walk by happy.” She believes that she has made a difference, even if it’s on a small scale.
Noah Cheng, a member of the community service board, believes that Special Olympics betters the community and brings joy to all those involved: “I think it’s a great way to get people happy and excited who are not as privileged and lucky as us. I love seeing everyone’s happy face as they accomplish a race, so I honestly believe that it is not only good for the athletes but it is also rewarding for us.”
The track meet for the Special Olympics will be on our campus next weekend. Many of our own peers will be volunteering to help with the meet in the morning shift, afternoon shift, or both. Due to the joy and rush of sports, the Special Olympics offers a diversion from any person’s academic environment. At any Special Olympics event, athletes with intellectual disabilities can build confidence and transform their lives. Attention to their disabilities fades away, and the athletes can run, jump, and compete without any insecurities or worries.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=8079