Spreading the Word

Special Olympics, Ending the R-word, Getting Involved

Unified Winter Ball

After three years of running the MetroWest Special Olympics at FSU we obviously want to make every year bigger and better than the last. One of the girls on my team mentioned hosting a prom with the Special Olympics athletes.

I took her idea and I made a few adjustments to make it a Unified Winter Ball because prom season is too close to the end of the year and we want to promote Special Olympics which takes place at the end if April.

Through Special Olympics I have realized that there are so many people at this school who really care about about the Special Olympics athletes and are just so amazing with them every single year. So I thought, why wait until the end of April to have fun with such amazing people?

So, my plan for next semester is to host a unified Winter Ball at  FSU with high schools in the MetroWest area and their Special Education classes. We would set it up so that everyone would meet and get together somehow and the boys in the Special Education classes would go to the Ball with girls from FSU and the girls in the Special Education Classes will go with the boys at FSU.

I think this would get a lot of attention and I think the students at FSU will be more than willing to take part in it. This event will not only be a one-time dance, it’s sure to build friendships that will last for years.

That being said, I am looking for ideas, tips and feedback on this event idea. For anyone who reads this – please comment below or email me at cristinaarrene@gmail.com with any advice. I really want this program to be successful so any insight will be greatly appreciated!

SPREAD THE WORD!

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Interview with a volunteer

You all know by now that I love Special Olympics and all that it stands for. But what you don’t know is that this passion runs in the family. My sister, Elyse, is a senior at Malden High School and has been involved in the Malden Special Olympics since her freshman year and also is heavily involved in Unified Sports.

Unified Sports is a great program at Malden High School. It takes place 3 to 4 times a week depending on the day’s class rotation schedule. During a certain class period, the Special Education classes (PACE Program) go down to the gym and have an hour or so of recreational activities. There are student volunteers from across the school who give up their studies or free periods to essentially take gym class with the PACE Program.

They have warm-ups lead by the captain of the football team. They have races and play games such as kickball, wiffleball, soccer and basketball.

All of the volunteers have a blast and as Elyse mentioned – they build so many friendships.

Unified Sports is a truly amazing program because it makes students with disabilities feel like they are no different from any of the other varsity athletes in the school.

I sat down with Elyse to talk about her experience with Unified Sports. Listen to our conversation below.

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Teacher for a Day

As a journalism minor I have to take a Feature Writing class and one of my assignments is to write a self-involvement article  about something I have always wanted to do. As I sat in class trying to think of something that I have never done and could write an article on – the usual “bucket list” ideas came to mind: skydiving, competing in a triathlon, going on a safari. But they I thought, “What could I do that I know I will enjoy and be able to help someone else?” The answer was a no-brainer. I decided to be a special education teacher for a day.

I got in touch with one of the teachers at my high school and spent the day in the post-secondary special education class. The students in this class were between the ages of 17 and 22 and getting ready to leave school to go onto work programs. I learned that most of the students were not born with their disabilities and that many of them are living with traumatic brain injuries.

The teacher said she uses a method called “decontamination through humor” if anyone ever gets upset or a topic gets to heavy to handle – they make a joke and lighten the mood.

The classroom is like a therapy session, the teacher told me. “What is said in here stays in here.”

During a speech session, we talked about the way we are treated and how it makes us feel when people push us away or ignore us. One of the students became overwhelmed with past experiences so immediately, one of the teachers played LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” Everyone jumped up out of their seats and started showing off their dance moves. It was just the kind of break we needed so everyone had a chance to unwind from such a heavy topic.

The class curriculum focuses mostly on life skill development, listening skills, how to follow directions, how to communicate with others and how to treat each other.

One of the lessons that day was, treat everyone with respect. It was a conversation that everyone today should have heard. We talked about how to act towards someone you may not particularly like – you have to be nice and respectful anyway.

I never thought that I would learn so much in one day. It was one of the most rewarding days of my life. All of the students were wonderful – they were sweet, funny and had such uplifting personalities. My day in that classroom has made me re-think my future. I even contemplated changing my major and career path but I have decided to get even more involved in Special Olympics instead – maybe as a coach.

There are so many stories that I could tell but I just don’t have the space to do so. But what I can say is, spending the day with these 15 students made me look at life in a whole new light. They have changed me for the better.

Lloyd, Danny, KorinaAyoub, Dennis

KamishaJacob

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Special Olympics, Ending the R-word, Getting Involved

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