Sports for Special Needs Children.

New Rule Says That Schools Must Provide Sports for Disabled Students.

(picture from ABC News website)

I found on the 'ABC News' website that the Education Department decided that schools need to provide the opportunity for disabled students to play school sports. They can join teams/leagues, if needed special accommodations can be made as long as it does not fundamentally alter the sport or give the student an advantage. If this cannot be done, then a 'parallel program' comparable to a tradition program has to be created.

"Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement announcing the new guidance Friday.

So basically it means that schools cannot exclude disabled students IF they can keep up with their counterparts. This is not to change those sports or even guarantee a spot on the team for a disabled student. There may be some minor changes allowed, such as a visual cue for a deaf runner.

The way the Education Department looks at it is that this new directive tells schools that it is a student's right to have access to intramural, interscholastic, and intercollegiate sports. Some states, Minnesota and Maryland, already have similar programs. One of our local high schools has a sports team that includes disabled students and according to one of the non-disabled students who plays - 'it is a lot of fun and the kids are really good'.

I came across a few links for other sports for disabled that maybe people haven't thought of (please take the time to review each - I did SOME clicking around to take a quick look): Outdoor Sports and Leisure ; Adapted Sports for People with Disabilities; Sports and Recreational Activities for Children with Physical Disabilities. Call around to your local sports clubs. Sometimes these kids are looking for an outlet to feel 'normal' and 'the same as everyone else'.

Special Olympics: Working Our Way to the Summer Games. Now They Are Done!

Just a note to say that the games were wonderful again this year even though they were held indoors due to heavy rain and ran behind schedule. Both the athletes and coaches handled the readjustment of game schedule well. The games were fun to watch and the athletes did their very best at all events. As all the coaches went home tired from being coach, mom/dad, personal assistant or social secretary, they left with smiles on their faces and high-fiving everyone. Their dedication to the athletes showed through the tiredness and confusion with the changes as they never left their side and got them to all the events on-time with last minute encouraging words. Thanks again to all!!! You guys are the best!!

Go back a month ---

As the practices come to an end and the pre-game is over, excitement and enthusiasm rises as we get closer to the Summer Games at URI for both the athletes and coaches. Will has been talking about it for about a month now, reminding me when he goes on the bus and sleeps over.

Everyone leaves on a Friday heading to the university for a day of games, settling into the dorms, seeing their friends from other cities and towns, meet the out-of-state group that joins them and get ready for the opening ceremonies later that evening. Sometimes taking it easy so they can enjoy the after-ceremony pizza party and dance. (they have such a good time) When it is nice, the ceremonies are held outside complete with the groups parading in, speeches, the motorcycle run preceding the torch (last year the total motorcycle count was around 1200 - the kids LOVE it when they come in), then the torch which has been literally on the road from the capital city all day (runners from local law enforcement bring it down) lights the flame for the start of it all. There have been about 1500 athletes meeting for the games.

The next day is full of games and fun, especially fun when the day is nice - the Special Olympic Village is outside, where each team, and their family, has a spot to sit and rest and eat. One tent holds free massages, arts and crafts, and sometimes child ID groups that will give families special forms, fingerprints or videos, one time there were teeth imprints of ALL children in the family. There usually is another tent where eye and teeth exams are done for free for athletes. Of course there are food stands; a great big 'Thank You' to the Knights of Columbus - they sell burgers and/or hot dogs, drinks, etc and all proceeds go to Special Olympics. The best part is watching the kids get their medals.

I want to say "thank you" to all our local coaches for the great work they do. Their commitment to our group is wonderful - most have been with the group for years, which says a lot about them. They have a sleepless night at the Summer Games, too worried about the kids being Ok, making sure they are safe, and being right there if someone has an issue (especially with the first-timers). They can be commended for their loyalty to the kids and their families, to make sure everyone stays involved and feel important to the group.

Anyone looking for a great charity to donate to? This would be the one!!!

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