ID People Changing The Game

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ID People Changing The Game

Daniella Micallef, Co-Editor of the Entertainment Page

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The Special Olympics is an organization for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. As stated from the Special Olympics website, “Intellectual disability (ID) is a term used to describe a person with certain limitations in cognitive functioning and other skills, including communication and self-care. These limitations can cause a child to develop and learn either more slowly or differently.” The Olympics occur every two years alternating with summer and winter games. These games are when people with disabilities can express themselves, find their voices and allow their abilities to be revealed. The Special Olympics goal is to provide year round training to let their applicants develop fitness, courage and confidence. They work to spread compassion and acceptance, by changing the environment around them, inspiring others to change their views and make a difference.
There are over 30 programs available for athletes to pursue. People with disabilities don’t get the chance to participate in school sports or town teams, so the Special Olympics give them a chance to have that experience and more. A junior at WVHS, Patrick Verboys, mentioned, “I don’t like that they are separated from the regular Olympics but it wouldn’t be fair for them to compete against athletes without disabilities. If a person is handicapped either physically or mentally, but still train hard, then they are deserving of recognition.” When playing the game, they aren’t treated differently but instead, respected and commended based on their talents. The Special Olympics isn’t just some phony program with fake awards. It includes real sports, intense training, real competition, and real achievements. Kyle Souryavong a junior at WVHS, agreed that the Special Olympics is the real deal stating, “They still have a passion for sports and a dream to fulfill. They still train and compete. This is their chance to prove to the world that just because you have a disability doesn’t mean the Special Olympics is anything different or fake.”
There are over 200 million people in the world with ID. According to the Special Olympics attitude research, people’s abilities are underestimated worldwide. However, this program stops the stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities and lets them be themselves and show their talent. Savanna Lugo, a senior at WVHS stated, “I absolutely think that people in the Special Olympics are real athletes. The fact that makes their capabilities questionable is their mental disabilities, which aren’t even debilitating. We see mental or physical limitations as such, limiting. What they really are is just some extra effort. What makes special athletes so special is the fact they have to work harder than “regular” athletes, which I think truly validates them.” These athletes are leaders. They take on new challenges and can become a coach to teach others. Athletes can become mentors or take the step further and become a spokesperson and preach to everyone about the Special Olympics and their own experiences.
Communities are built through training, competitions, health screenings, leadership, fundraising and more. The youngest athlete can start the programs at age two ranging to any age, race, religion, gender and education level. Ranging from eight years and up, there are over 4.5 million athletes in the olympics. There is also a program for kids two to seven years of age named ‘Special Olympics Young Athletes’. During the program, activities are focused on improving mental and physical health. The games develop the children’s motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Everyday the children learn something new. Their social skills improve making it easier to talk with others, have confidence, and pride. Everyone is welcomed and accepted.
The Special Olympics also raise awareness about the abilities of people with disabilities. The program even brings together people without disabilities. People can volunteer as coaches or officials. Health care professionals can provide free health exams for the athletes. There are even opportunities for teenagers to connect with the Special Olympics, like becoming a coach or volunteering for specific events. There are so many more ways to participate and by doing so, not only are people brought together but opinions of many people in the world are changed. The athletes that participate in the Special Olympics struggle every day with their disabilities but that doesn’t stop them from trying their best and if they lose, it causes them to get back up and try harder. The Special Olympic programs enable the participants to accomplish anything. One mother was told by a doctor that her daughter, who has down syndrome and a heart defect, was never going to achieve anything. Thirty years later, she is a gold medalist, official, and gymnastics coach.
Special Olympic athletes take this experience to a new level. They live like there’s no tomorrow. One athlete stated, “I had the greatest time of my life.” One teenager was afraid of a lot of things growing up. However, because of the Special Olympics, “AJ has now become the loud noise he once feared.”
An adult named Jack mentioned, “I am so grateful for Special Olympics. Don’t think of your disability as a disability. Think of it as a strength. We Special Olympic athletes are strong and we will move on.” Rafael, who works for Special Olympics, stated, “What I experienced changed my thoughts about people with intellectual disabilities forever.” The Special Olympics is a great opportunity for people to exit their comfort zone, spread their wings and fly.
People with disabilities have unique challenges. They are limited to activities and haven’t been able to shine, until now. The Special Olympics gives ID people the chance to explore their skills, make friends, have fun and discover new strengths. Participating in sports displays them in a new light. These people’s attitudes change and because of the Special Olympics, a new perspective on life is of view.

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ID People Changing The Game