By: Staff Writer Rishab Ramapriyan
Students from MSJ participated in the Mission Valley Track and Field event, organized by the Schools Partnership Program of the Special Olympics of Northern California, May 1 at James Logan High School. Over 400 students from FUSD, Hayward Unified School District, and New Haven Unified School District participated in this event. The event was organized by the Physical Education department at James Logan High School and was sponsored by various Bay Area companies.
The Special Olympics event was designed to resemble the actual Olympics. The event started with a torch relay, followed by the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance. The events also featured many track and field events. The Ambulatory Race involved a 50-meter dash for students on wheelchairs. Students also performed in a baton relay known as the Universal Race. In the Universal Race, students from all teams participated, including both junior and high school students. Other events included a javelin throw, ball throw, and high jump. General education students also serve as event managers and aid the competitors in some events. In the Peer Buddy Race, general education students assist vision-impaired students in a track walking event.
The MSJ Special Olympics team won many awards in the track and field events. Special Education instructor, Sujata Singh said, “Their performance was beyond expectations. Once the kids arrived at the event, they felt so empowered.” Singh described the event as a “big family reunion”. Students were excited to meet with their former instructors and friends. In preparation for the event, the instructors emphasize stamina building and team building training. Students are encouraged to have a healthy diet and this is done with the cooperation of the parents. Social etiquette skills are also emphasized at this event, as students prepare a “Happy Barbeque Meal” by themselves and eat together.
The MSJ Special Olympics team attends three events a year. Singh said, “These events instill happiness, cheer, and a can-do attitude in the students. The ability to perform is not judged, rather creativity and teamwork is emphasized.” Singh looks forward to taking her students to similar Special Olympics events in the future.