Fernando Perez, Rayburn JROTC student, shares a laugh with Angela Delossantos, a Genoa student.
Peyton McDuffie, Genoa kindergarten student, travels with his mother to the next activity.
His smile said it all - Isaac Tijerina, of Turner Elementary, laughed as he enjoyed a round of basketball, bowling, soccer along with other fun games and activities during the Special Olympics Young Athletes and Motor Activity Training Programs at Rayburn High School, March 3 and 4.
Little did Isaac know, along with hundreds of other students in the district who participated in the two-day event – they were developing motor skills and hand-eye coordination while learning skills that will help them socially and in school.
“I think this is a really good experience for them,” Lynette Tijerina, Isaac’s mother said. “They learn and have fun. The best part is they do not even realize they are learning, but they are.”
Both events were hosted by the Special Olympics of Texas and the district’s Adapted Physical Education (APE) department.
The Young Athletes Program is designed to introduce children, age two to seven, to the world of physical activity. The program uses physical activities to help students develop fundamental motor tracking and eye-hand coordination.
The focus of the Motor Activities Training Program is on participation rather than competition. Emphasis is placed on helping students achieve personal bests and allows for adapted equipment and physical assistance.
“A major benefit of the program is it builds self-confidence in the child because they’re always told what they can’t do,” Renee Klovenski, Special Olympics program director said. “In Special Olympics, we show students different ways so they’re always a success. These experiences transition into school work, family, community and jobs as they get older.”
Not only did the events seem to benefit students in the Special Olympics program, but Rayburn JROTC volunteers also seemed to enjoy working with the students.
“I love doing this and I enjoy helping out,” Fernando Perez, a Rayburn JROTC student said.
Isaac’s mother and hundreds of parents like her watched their children enjoying the day from the stands. Parents were invited to participate in the day's activities because the Special Olympics is also in the business of building relationships with families.
“The most important thing for us is improving the lives of the students, but also unifying the families,” Klovenski said. “We give them the support they need or guide them so they find the support they need to help their child be successful.”
For families interested in learning more about the Special Olympics, please visit the website (http://www.specialolympicstexas.org/).
Lizandro Dominguez, Park View Intermediate eighth grader, bowls with his teacher Diane Sanchez.
Faith Rocha, of Freeman Elementary, crawls through a parachute tunnel to the next activity.