“What does every child want? The chance to kick a ball, to throw it well, to share that success with family members. What does every child with intellectual disabilities want? The exact same thing.” (retrieved from Special Olympics website, 4/17/2019)
On Tuesday, April 16th, the entire student body at Menchaca Early Childhood Center participated in Special Olympics Young Athletes (YA), which is a “sport and play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities (ID), ages 2 to 7 years old.” Students had so much. The school created a schedule allowing students’ classes to participate in 20 minute increments. Each student received a shirt from Special Olympics, as well as a snack. This was the second Young Athletes event this year for Menchaca. Last year was the first time Southside ISD participated in the YA Program.
“Young Athletes introduces basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing…children of all abilities take part, and they all benefit. Young Athletes welcomes children and their families into the world of Special Olympics.” At Menchaca students participated in parachute fun, tunnel crawl, practice kicking a soccer ball into a net, and many other game stations set up by the SA Area Special Olympics staff (Special Olympics website, 4/17/2019).
There are many benefits of this “inclusive” model. For children who have disabilities, it creates peer role models for academic, social, and behavior skills and increased inclusion in future environments. There are also benefits to students without disabilities (“typically developing students”) such as increased appreciation and acceptance of individual differences, greater academic outcomes, and all students needs are better met, greater resources for everyone” (retrieved from www.kidstogether.org).