by Molly Bent '16
With only one week left in the fall sports season, our teams are on the athletic fields until dark, preparing for late season contests with playoff and championship aspirations in sight. But, this Sunday the field house will be packed with a new group of athletes, whose season is just beginning. Excitement will be in the air as we host Tabor’s first Special Olympics Young Athletes Program!
Special Olympics Young Athletes Program is a relatively new addition to the robust offerings of an amazing organization. The program serves children between 2 and 7 years old who are a bit too young for typical Special Olympics programming. With a focus on developing foundational skills like balance, throwing, and kicking, the program prepares athletes with intellectual impairments to take place in Special Olympic offerings when they come of age.
My younger sister, Sarah, who was born with Down Syndrome, participated in the Young Athletes Program my mom helped establish in my own town. Sarah is now 10, and in addition to competing in Special Olympic events, she also participates in our town’s rec basketball, soccer, and gymnastics programs. The Young Athletes program was instrumental in her development of the skills necessary to participate in all these activities - skills that come more easily to children without intellectual disabilities. Because of her development, Sarah can be a part of a team - and she loves it!
The people involved are the most important aspects of any successful Special Olympics program. Volunteers need to be energetic, selfless, and kind, and the students at Tabor are all those things. In my two years at Tabor, I have seen how the community has welcomed my sister.
Whenever she comes to campus, everyone is so kind to her. Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Bozzi and two students walked her to the Chapel Field after finding her, very confused, on the turf. My mom, who had dropped her off at the boys’ game by mistake, was very grateful! And last winter, Jesse Bunting, then a senior on the boys’ basketball team, came over to her at halftime of one of my games when he saw her struggling to make a basket. He lifted her up, and when she scored, the crowd cheered louder than they had the entire game.
I am excited that Tabor is partnering with the Young Athletes Program because I have seen the kind of impact Special Olympics has had on my sister and I hope we as a community can help impact the lives of other local families who have children with disabilities.
Learn more about this program and find the open house dates here.