by Kayleigh Vo
The annual Special Olympics held at Nazareth Area High School took place on April 19, 2018. 144 student athletes have been preparing for the whole year to compete in activities, such as javelin throw, scooter races, long jump. Students earned colorful ribbons as a symbol of their hard work.
Ms. Megan O’Brien who is a social studies teacher and the advisor for the Special Olympic Committee. She tells us the Committee started preparing for the event in September. The members scheduled to meet every D day during Eagle Block, but most “students [came] in on other days to help complete the decorations” because there was “so much to be done.” However, that’s not the end of it. Ms. O’Brien also “put in time after school running errands to get the supplies [they] need to make everything.”
This year’s theme was Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The high school’s gym lobby was completely under the sea, covered wall to wall with hand-painted items and characters from the movie. While most people can admire the beautiful artwork, they don’t know about how everything came to be.
The theme of the event is chosen on the first meeting of the year. They often pick a theme that “revolves around a movie [they] can show and have the athletes view when they are not competing.” Most of the athletes are younger in age, so the movie theme must be appropriate for that age range. Of course, some of the most kid-friendly movies are Disney or Pixar.
This year’s movie was chosen because it is Ms. O’Brien’s favorite movie and this is her last year as advisor, after 7 successful years running the event. She says, “the process itself can be very time consuming, creating the decorations.” In the past, it took the Committee one day to set up the gym lobby. However, this year, it took them two days.
Besides the competitions held throughout the gym, the lobby holds activities that athletes could participate in between their events. The stations—coloring, ball toss, crafts, face-painting, and the movie—are chosen and created by the Committee. According to Ms. O’Brien, the athletic events “are chosen by the Intermediate Unit, but the committee helps to set them up.” The Intermediate Unit also signs up the athletes and schedules their individual events.
While it has been getting harder and harder to get students to volunteer, Ms. O’Brien “received many emails from parents and the IU about how amazing [the] school volunteers (Huggers) were” this year.