Special Olympic athletes to compete for local schools

274 Special Education and Inclusion elementary, middle and high school students from Santa Barbara County will compete in the 7th Annual Track & Field School Games hosted by Special Olympics Santa Barbara on Friday, April 17th. The public is invited to attend Opening Ceremonies beginning at 9:15am at the Santa Barbara City College Track followed by track and field events for students of all ability levels.

The School Games provides the only inter-school athletic competition opportunity for children and teens with intellectual disabilities. “We are excited to offer these students the opportunity to be included in an athletic competition with other students,” said Regional Sports Manager Tim Philibosian. “For most students this is their only opportunity to proudly represent their school as part of a sports team.” Teachers, volunteers and community supporters will be able to witness the excitement these students feel as they run, walk and wheel through the finish line.

Students from Carpinteria, Goleta, Hope, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang and County Special Education programs have been training for the past two months with the help of participating Special Education and Adapted P.E. teachers and aides. Athletes will have the opportunity to participate in up to three track and field events including wheelchair races, a softball throw, tennis ball throw, standing long jump and running long jump. Students will compete for a coveted spot on the medal stand, with the hope of receiving a first, second, or third place ribbon awarded to them by a local law enforcement volunteer.

The School Games competition will begin at 9:15am with Opening Ceremonies featuring Janet Wolf, Second District Supervisor and the National Anthem sung by Gavin Stewart, a Santa Barbara High School student and athlete in this year’s School Games. The Parade of Athletes will conclude the Opening Ceremonies and kick off the beginning of the track and field events.

The School Games program was implemented in Santa Barbara in 2008 with only 25 special education students from two classrooms representing Carpinteria Unified School District. Today, the Track & Field School Games has grown to include over 270 students representing 31 school programs from 7 different school districts.

The 7th Annual School Games is generously sponsored by Cox Communications, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, the George B. Page Foundation, Henry Bull Foundation, Jensen AudioVisual, the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Yardi Systems The event has been organized by Special Olympics staff and volunteer groups from the Circle K Club of UCSB, Citrix Online, Clover Telecom, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, Kiwanis of Santa Barbara, Law Enforcement, Montecito Bank & Trust, Starbucks, and many community volunteers.

For more information, contact Michelle Duke at (805) 884-1516, ext. 102 or mduke@sosc.org or visit www.sosc.org/santabarbara.

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