Celebrating Summer with the Young Athletes Program

 

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Preparing for life through sports begins with the Young Athletes Program here at Special Olympics Northern California. The Young Athletes Program offers kids with intellectual disabilities from 2 to 7 years old an opportunity to develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination through physical activities. The Young Athletes Program (YAP) is where kids first build their sports skills while socializing with their peers.

Our very first summer series of YAP is in full swing with six weekly sessions! All of the physical activities are focused around a different sport each week and most importantly, fun. The kids have been building on their skills week after week with obstacle courses, balance beams, and throwing and kicking at targets.  On the final day our athletes will get to show off the skills they’ve acquired in each sport throughout the series.  It’s an amazing moment for volunteers and parents alike when a young athlete masters a new skill and gets their high-fives and hugs.

We are incredibly grateful to Eric Hamilton, the lead instructor for this summer program. Eric creates a fun and supportive environment for our Young Athletes and their parents. Eric guides the parents and the volunteers to create a rewarding experience for everyone.

Click to learn more about how the Young Athletes Program or about volunteering.

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NCS Meet of Champions

It was a big day for Special Olympics Northern California Unified Sports Athletes and Unified Partners who made their first appearance at the North Coast Section’s Track and Field Meet of Champions on May 28th at  U.C. Berkeley’s Edwards Stadium, representing 11 NCS member schools.  Each Special Education Unified Athlete was matched with a General Education Unified Partner to create a “Unified Unit” to compete in the Unified 100m dash and Unified Long Jump. Unified Athletes and Unified Partners combined individual times and distances to create a total Unified Unit time for the 100m and total distance for the long jump. This was the first time that Unified Units were invited to compete at the highest level in the North Coast Section or any Section Track and Field Championship in the state of California.

Including Unified Sports in the North Coast Section’s Track and Field Championship was an idea that NCS Commissioner Gil Lemmon presented to SONC in late 2015 after the California Department of Education, Special Olympics Northern California and Southern California, and California Interscholastic Federation announced a partnership to provide opportunities for student athletes with disabilities. Once that was established, then the work began of finding the athletes, schools, coaches, and parents willing to trail blaze this new frontier.

We are so grateful to Redwood High School, Castro Valley High School, James Logan High School, Dublin High School, Acalanes High School, Foothill High School, Pittsburg High School, Miramonte High School, Sir Francis Drake High School, Tamalpais High School and Terra Linda High School for their participation. Thank you to our athletes, coaches and parents who took a chance on a new event over Memorial Day Weekend.

All the Unified Athletes and Partners are terrific examples of the CIF’s mission of, “perusing victory with honor.” Congratulations to Dublin High School for placing first in the Girls 100 meter and Girls long jump. Congratulations to Foothill High School for placing first in the Boys 100 meter and to Tamalpais High School for placing first in the Boys long jump. It was exciting for us here at SONC to witness the journey and the competition.

As we close the school year, we are pleased that the North Coast Section Meet of Champions was such a huge success. We are very grateful that the NCS also felt it was a success and wrote this great article that was included in the NCS’s publication The Scoop.

Capital Insurance Group Partners with Special Olympics Northern California to Become Presenting Sponsor for 2016!

We are excited to announce that Capital Insurance Group has partnered with Special Olympics Northern California as a presenting sponsor for the 2016 Northern California Schools Partnership Program Monterey Track and Field Meet. Arne Chatterton, CEO of Capital Insurance Group, said “The entire CIG team is excited to partner with Special Olympics Northern California, and help prove a great experience and open doors for fun, sportsmanship and friendly competition to those in the community who otherwise may lack the opportunity to participate”.

The 2016 Northern California Schools Partnership Program Monterey Track and Field Meet will take place at Monterey Peninsula College on Friday, April 29th from 9:30am to 1pm. Approximately 500 student-athletes ranging from grades K-12 will be competing. Students participating are from Salinas Unified School District, Salinas Union High School District, South Monterey County Joint Union High School District, North Monterey County Join Union High School District, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and Soledad Unified School District will be participating.

We know our student athletes training hard in preparation for the mile, 100 and 50 meter dashes, wheelchair races as well as turbo javelin, softball throw, tennis ball throw and standing long jump.  We are excited that CIG volunteers will be there to support our athletes and participate in a day that is fun, inspirational and inclusive.

Nominate a Schools Volunteer of the Year

Do you know a teacher, student or administrator who made an incredible difference in your school during 2015? Nominate them for the Special Olympics Schools Volunteer of the Year award! Click here to nominate a schools volunteer in Nevada and click here to nominate a Northern California schools volunteer!

The nomination takes just a few minutes and you can nominate anyone who volunteered during the 2015 calendar year with the Special Olympics Northern California & Nevada Schools Partnership Program. That could be a general education student who strives to make their school a more respectful place, a principal who helped bring Special Olympics to their school or a teacher who coaches their students receiving special education services. Anyone!

In your nomination, you’ll take a few minutes to describe what your nominee did during 2015 to support the Special Olympics Schools Partnership Program and why he or she should be selected as the schools volunteer of the year.

Get your nominations in ASAP because all nominations are due by March 27, 2016!

Click here to nominate a Schools Partnership Program volunteer in Nevada!

Click here to nominate a Schools Partnership Program volunteer in Northern California!

Basketball Unites High School Students

Unified basketball is making big changes at schools – one practice and one competition at a time. We had a blast seeing this at a Unified basketball tournament in Livermore!

Granada High School hosted rival Livermore High School and nearby Dublin High School for a riveting Unified basketball tournament. About 50 athletes – with and without disabilities – played together as teammates while more than 200 students cheered from the stands!

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A student receiving special education services at Dublin High recounted that scoring and hearing the people cheering were his favorite parts.

Many of the general education students participating play on their varsity basketball teams. Some student aides from the special education classes also played on the Unified team. In the spirit of sportsmanship, some Granada general education students filled in on the Dublin team and said it was wonderful to play together regardless of ability. For many of the general education students playing, seeing and hearing all the fans cheering for every school highlighted the day.

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Granada HS seniors volunteered as referees and some of the GHS cheerleaders offered their support as well! Students from nearby Joe Mitchell School even walked over to watch.

Livermore High School Athletic Director James Petersdorf said that Unified basketball is making a very real and accepting difference at his school. The varsity basketball players are now saying hello to their Unified basketball teammates on campus, something that Petersdorf notes has never happened before.

Granada Unified is adding bowling this week!

To see more about the power of Unified Sports, click here!

Thanks to Granada for hosting!