Although the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are over for 2022, the time to honor athletes of all levels never ends.
Case in point: Thursday morning at Rodriguez High School, where the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District has once again partnered with Special Olympics Northern California for its annual assortment of athletic activities that give students education a chance to participate in athletics, develop physical strength and socialize with others.
What made this event particularly significant was that it was the first of its kind in three years. The most recent athletics event was in 2019, and adaptive EP specialist Matt Miller said it was scheduled for 2020 again, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“It took two years to prepare for this wonderful event,” he said. “We’re all very excited… It’s just a wonderful experience. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s really rewarding. »
The event is one of many FSUSD Adaptive Physical Education departments held over the years, which has also included games of golf, basketball, soccer, bowling, and even an annual prom. When the track and field event was last held, the athletes were made up of special education students from middle schools in the district. This year, they were students from four of his high schools: Armijo, Fairfield, Rodriguez and the H. Glenn Richardson Education Complex.
Adaptive physical education teacher Haley Duncan enjoyed seeing the students get back into the rhythm of in-person learning, and they were especially excited about this event.
“They talked about it every day,” she said. “(They are) super excited to race in the different events. We’ve been training for about five weeks now.
Events such as athletics also allow special education students to interact with the host school’s leadership students, who also help check in attendees, set up banners, and even participate in some games. Duncan said special and general education students have acquired a sense of cameramanship.
“Students with special needs love working with (student) leaders and making friends with them,” she said. “They see each other on campus, say hello and punch each other, so it’s really great that we can integrate our students with their same-age peers.”
Riley Mark, Senior Vice President at Rodriguez, appreciated being able to host the event.
“I love seeing all the kids having fun and having a special education student event where they’re recognized and they have their own event,” she said.
Pre-ceremony events included a drumlin performance by the Rodriguez Drum Corps and the recitation of the Special Olympics Athlete Oath by Abel Gunther, a Special Olympics athlete from Fairfield High: “Let me win, but if I don’t win , let me be brave in the attempt.
David Isom, vice-chairman of the FSUSD school board, said it was indeed a special day, which he marked by spelling “special”, as he addressed the crowd. He also made sure that the participants knew that they were more than just students or athletes.
“You are Olympians,” he said. “What a great honour, what a great title to be called an Olympian.”
Isom also praised adaptive physical education teachers for providing athletes with a pathway to physical fitness.
“Through the power of sport, these young Olympians have discovered new strengths and abilities, skills and success,” he said. “They find joy, confidence and fulfillment on the playground and in life.”
After a torch run, where athletes from four different schools carried paper torches as they raced alongside officers from the California Highway Patrol and the Fairfield Police Department, the games began. Events included the one mile run, 25 yard walk, 100 yard dash, 100 hurdle dash, 400 yard run, long jump, long jump, javelin throw, Frisbee throwing and shot put. The medals of the winners of each category were awarded by law enforcement.
Duncan said the events are hard work but very rewarding.
“The end result and being there that day is so rewarding and so special,” she said. “You’re just being reminded why we do what we do.”
Miller said the global event “gives everyone the opportunity to hit that track and reach the finish line and be part of something special.”
“I hope they had a great experience working with their peers and enjoying a great day here just to celebrate that we’re all here enjoying it together,” he said. declared.