In what one tenured Special Olympics employee called “The coolest thing I’ve seen in quite some time,” members of the East Bay community of Alamo gathered at Mauzy School for a Young Athlete Day. Days like this are part of our Young Athlete Program (YAP).
About 15 students from nearby Stone Valley Middle School volunteered at the Young Athlete Day along with parents, the Contra Costa County Office of Education and other community members in attendance. About 40 special education preschool-aged students from Mauzy School enjoyed sports stations in an introduction to Special Olympics Northern California.
Some Mauzy students at the event do not get the opportunity to travel to other Special Olympics programs or interact on a regular basis with other parts of the community and certainly not with middle school students, which made this Young Athlete Day extraordinary. Special Olympics Northern California and the Stone Valley students – and the Contra Costa County Office of Education – put on a bit of a traveling road show by bringing the Young Athlete Day to Mauzy’s campus in Alamo. The day featured stations where the Mauzy students could bowl, run, play soccer, basketball or baseball.
One of the highlights – and a very unique one at that – was that the Mauzy teachers put together a sensory hallway. They took a big, long hallway at the school and filled it with lights, streamers and different things to touch. The best part was a bubble-wrap lined floor! As the young students walked or rolled in their wheelchairs, they got to feel and hear the bubble wrap pop! Every so often, the teachers would replace the bubble wrap so it was fresh for another group of students.
One of our Special Olympics employees described the day…
“The thing that stood out the most for me about the Young Athlete Day was the community coming together to help with the event. There were adult volunteers there to push wheelchairs and students from the local middle school to run the stations. Everyone was super supportive of the cause.”
Thank you to the Contra Costa Office of Education, Mauzy students, families, teachers and our student volunteers for making this day such an exceptional Young Athlete Day!
About the Young Athlete Program (YAP):
The Young Athlete Program focuses on the basics that are crucial to cognitive development: physical activities that develop motor skills and hand‐eye coordination and the application of these physical skills through sports skills and programs. YAP offers children with intellectual disabilities and their peers opportunities for meaningful interaction that leads to future relationships of mutual respect, friendship and inclusion. The program also serves as an introduction for new families to use resources and support available within Special Olympics, while providing a vehicle for families to network with each other. The program is appropriate for various learning situations, preschools, schools and playgroups with small groups of young children. It is also versatile enough for families to play with their young athletes at home in a fun and safe atmosphere. The flexibility of the Young Athlete Program ensures the opportunity to welcome families and their young children into the Special Olympics family.
To read our blog post on another Young Athlete Day, please click here.