Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Young Athletes Festival


HMS held the second Young Athletes Festival on Friday, May 23rd. We partnered with Lisa Bird and Mark Capano, from Special Olympics, to host this event for children ages 2 through 8 who are too young to participate in the Special Olympics. Our 8th grade students supported our visitors with various activities designed to introduce them to Special Olympics sports through play.

Meredith Hawkins, YHS student, introduced the idea for this event during her 7th grade year at HMS. Please see Meredith's write up below. The festival is a natural fit with our 8th Grade Civil Rights Unit, which the students are currently working on.

We were so impressed and moved by the determination of these young athletes, and by the caring encouragement and support provided to them by our students. Our 8th graders shared that they will always remember this day, and talked about how inspiring it was to work with our young visitors.

Our thanks to Rod Corey for his commitment to this event, and for his leadership and perseverance organizing everything that needed to be done to host the festival, and to Mike Hagerty, Megan Rice, Steve Simonton, Ira Warshaw, and Bill Shardlow for their input, guidance and support. 
 We greatly appreciate Lisa Bird's and Mark Capano's work, and their dedication to providing this opportunity to the young athletes and our students.

Special thanks to Meredith Hawkins, who remains unfailingly devoted to this work; she encourages and motivates all of us, and to Kathy Gardner for her important work behind the scenes.


Finally, we want to recognize our 8th grade students, whose participation at the festival embodies the true essence of community service, and caring for others. They acted as amazing ambassadors; we were proud to have them represent HMS.   

From Meredith Hawkins: 

For those of you who are not aware, I gave a presentation on "Spread the Word to End the Word," during my 7th grade year at HMS. "Spread the Word to End the Word" is an ongoing campaign working to raise awareness of the harmful effects of the R-word (retard). Middle school students pledged to work toward banning the R-word from their vocabulary.

After this presentation, I became aware of a Special Olympics day that North Yarmouth Academy hosted, and was inspired to do something similar at our school. In our efforts to bring this experience to Yarmouth, we found out about The Young Athletes program. This program is geared toward children who are too young for the Special Olympics, but would like to participate in a similar event.

On May 24th last year, the Maine Special Olympics, and eighth grade students, hosted the first ever festival for young athletes, ages 2-8, at Harrison Middle School. Eighth grade students assisted the athletes, and cheered them on as they participated in various games and activities. This program complements the Civil Rights unit that eighth graders study in the spring. We're hoping that this will become an annual event and continue as a tradition in the Yarmouth Schools.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email.
Thank you-
Meredith Hawkins

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