Today is the day my little (er.. big) ones have been waiting for! The highlight of the month of January – Special Olympics Basketball Skills. This event is perfectly timed. What else do we have going on in January? We are all settling in to a winter funk so this is the perfect change of pace.
Basketball Skills is one of my favorite events because it is small and a low key. A perfect first event of the year. We also do Spring Games which are track and field events. Nothing about Spring Games is small or low key. It’s the first week of May and Opening Ceremonies is at Soldier Field (so freaken fun and awesome!) followed by three days of competition. It’s the best and most exhausting week of the school year. I literally get directly into my bed after school. So basketball lets us ease our way into it.
For basketball skills athletes are scored on passing, dribbling, and shooting. These are simple enough events that even my students who are lower functioning can compete! Athletes are scored against other similar athletes so it’s fair. They get a medal or ribbon at the end of the day. They hand on to that prize like the winning mega million ticket. And it almost brought tears to my eyes, the first time I did home visits I saw how many parents displayed their child’s Special Olympics Awards. It means so much to them. It is finally an opportunity to celebrate their child. Their child gets to be the winner and awarded. In a life of so much opposition, challenges, and hearing “your child can’t do that” – Special Olympics means the world to my student and their families.
If you don’t do Special Olympics – check out their website to see how you can get your classroom involved!
My coworker and I started up my school’s Special Olympic program 5 years ago. I was initially very overwhelmed. If you are new to Special Olympics here are my tips for starting out:
- start small! Pick one event and see how that goes!
- The paperwork can be overwhelming so stay on top of it!
- Get the support of your principal and gym teacher.
Some tips on running a Special Olympics Program (once it gets running):
- get the help of you gym teacher! My school is now lucky enough to have an amazing PE teacher. He does most of our practicing towards Special Olympic events in gym class now.
- If you don’t have a gym teacher (or one that can help), schedule a Special Olympics practice time. Put it on your kids schedule. Do it the same time every week. This can be motivating for some students! Again start small on this!
- Put all the important dates of when paperwork is due in your calendar – in the start of the year! I consider myself fairly organized and I still somehow forget to turn in some forms.
- Have fun! I spent so much energy stressing the first year we went to Spring Games – I don’t think I even enjoyed it! The kids will have fun no matter what 🙂
- When you go to events/competitions: pair up students with aides, parents, or chaperones. Athletes are often in different events based on skill level. You can’t be every where. If students are paired with an adult the adult can take them to their event.
Here are some (awkwardly edited) photos from last year:
Do you do Special Olympics with your classroom? Any heart warming stories to share?