As summer turns to fall, everyone is heading back to school, including Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program which is partnered with more than 400 schools all over California.
One of our partner schools, Castro Valley High School, shared with us a story about one of their remarkable students G’ana Losson. G’ana is 16 years old and is a senior at Castro Valley High School and has been playing on their Girls Varsity Soccer Team since her freshman year. In addition to her school team, G’ana plays for the Pleasanton Rage Soccer Club ECNL and has played with Castro Valley Soccer Club. G’ana is definitely an amazing athlete and a team player.
Not only is G’ana an amazing athlete, she has a big heart. She worked over the summer as a referee for the Pleasanton Soccer Referee Association and has donated all the money she earned to Special Olympics Northern California. When asked why she picked us G’ana said, “I chose to donate my earnings because my cousin, who has Autism recently joined a soccer team where all of his teammates have similar needs as him. I found this inspiring and want everyone to enjoy something they care about. I decided to pick Special Olympics Northern California because a good amount of my friends at American High School would always talk about how they spent hours working with the kids in the Special Olympics program with their varsity soccer team when they hold the Special Olympics soccer event there. I always wished I had the opportunity to work with them, but never did. This is my way of working with the Special Olympics program.”
G’ana is a shining example of students giving back to their communities in a meaningful way. We are extremely grateful that G’ana is supporting the athletes of Special Olympics Northern California.
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.
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.
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.