by Michael Duan
More than three million disabled athletes from over one hundred fifty countries compete annually at the Special Olympics. These olympians compete in similar events as the regular Olympics; however, they all compete with a significant physical handicap.
In the beginning week of April, students competed in Special Olympics events hosted by seniors Dana Ayoob, Harrison Kidd and junior Erin Owen for their leadership class project.
The Chadwick Special Olympics was a series of events and mini-games where participating students would engage in activities where one or more of their body parts would be disabled with the aid of tools such as crutches or blindfolds, making the games much harder.
“We got the idea for these events because we followed a Special Olympics basketball team for about two months, watching and filming their practices. We made the footage was used in documentary we made about sports in our community,” said Ayoob. “We gained an appreciation for handicapped, mental and physical, sports through our experience and wanted to share it with Chadwick.
The group hopes to donate sizable profits from their fundraisers to the charity they have spent so much time supporting.
“We are either donating to Mychals learning place or the special Olympics program,” said Kidd. “They both use the money to buy new equipment and expand their program.”
Each of the sports required the particpants to have a physical handicap. The students participated in events ranging from wheelchair competitions, crutch soccer, and blind softball.
The additional crutches, wheelchairs and blindfolds made it difficult for players to follow the new rules. Immediately, participating students were wholly disorientated and were forced to improvise for the special scenario.
The required skill and endurance needed to participate in the actual Special Olympics as a professional disabled athlete truly shone after student spectators surveyed the matches.
“It was an amazing sight to behold. At first, I was thinking, where was the beeping coming from?” said Freshman Dominic Grande. “Then, I saw these upperclassmen tossing a beeping ball while blindfolded. I think these events are the highlights of the year. The Special Olympics event allowed us students to empathize with the actual Special Olympics athletes and see what challenges they had to overcome, and how strong they have to be to cross each and every obstacle.”
Kidd said, “Our goal was to get the student body to realize the greater significance of sports in every part of our community, and I had a lot of players come up to me and say it was a lot harder than they thought, which was good.”
Freshman Wayne Chou said, “[These events really relieved the stress caused by the massive numbers of homework our teachers assigned us. The school and its students should organize more of these events, as not only does it enlighten us, it also provides a good source of entertainment and variety.”
On the last day of the event, the leadership group held a barbecue in order to raise donations for organizations that raise much-needed funds for special needs sports. Kidd cooked barbecue to raise
“What I think is the most amazing thing is that ordinary students could organize such an event,” said sophomore David Harris. “Beneath all the fun and games of the events, I feel that the week allowed us to appreciate special sports, and the real Special Olympics. Not very many people I know personally know too much about it, and I definitely know for a fact that it is not as universally known as the main, regular Olympic Games.”
Overall, the leadership group fulfilled their goals.
“[Sports] allow kids and adults with special needs to feel equal and make new friends. Sports allow everyone, disabled or not, to have fun, make new friends, and get exercise,” said Kidd.