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Special Olympics Unified Sports

Special Olympics Unified Sports

This Saturday, my family spent the morning at our local high school watching Max participate in a variety of sports activities. While this may be a regular weekend activity for most families (soccer field, baseball field, basketball court), it’s not something we thought we’d experience with Max. He has poor motor planning making many sports difficult for him to participate in and most team activities result in him standing off on the sideline watching.

But this weekend, we came together with our community of parents of children with special needs (and their typical peers) along with teacher volunteers, college student and Special Olympic volunteers for Unified Sports Elementary Day.

Once a week for 5 weeks or so, we dropped Max off for school early (7:30 a.m.!) so he could practice and learn the basics of basketball, soccer, volleyball, bowling, track and field and baseball. Along with his PE teacher and peers (both typical learners and those with special needs), they reviewed and practiced all in anticipation of Saturday’s event. Max was so proud of his school t-shirt and could not wait for the event where all of our town’s elementary schools were represented, as were many schools from surrounding towns.

We didn’t know what to expect from the event, but we did expect Max to stand to the side and observe; to look for us and make sure we were there, just as he’s done at every other group activity or preschool concert thus far. In fact, we didn’t even invite any family members because we thought they’d distract him even more.

But you know what? He didn’t do any of that. He marched in with his school, proudly holding the banner during the march of the athletes (complete with Olympic theme song and all. Yes, there were tears. Mine, not his.). He participated in every skill for every sport. Even when he was getting tired, he never asked for a break and wanted to stay with his team. He. was. amazing.

It was the first time in the 5+ years we’ve been dealing with doctors and therapists and behavior issues that I truly felt at peace. I truly felt ok. A friend who was also there posted her photos to Facebook with the caption Life is Good…and for the first time, I had to agree. No Fakebooking here.

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