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Special Olympics bring students together

News-Topic - 4/30/2017

April 29--A cloudy, overcast morning could not dampen the spirits of the Caldwell County students participating in the 2017 Special Olympics at South Caldwell High School on Friday.

One of the highlights of the morning was a "unified relay" between general education students and exceptional children from Granite Falls Middle School and Hudson Middle School.

The unified relay is something that event organizers just added last year, said Marie Huffman, Special Olympics Caldwell County school games coordinator. She said the organization is making a push to include more unified events that allow the general education students and exceptional children to compete together.

"They love it, it builds a bigger bond between the athletes," she said. "This promotes more awareness, teaches acceptance and builds the confidence for all students. It really helps create a better world."

Clay Haun, a student at Granite Falls Middle School, was a part of the race and said it was an awesome experience for him.

"It was a lot of fun to race with them," he said. "This gives them a chance to compete with us and it means a lot to them."

A unified tug-of-war competition was also added to this year's events.

There was also a plethora of other events that middle school, high school and adult education students from across the county competed in such as relays, ring toss, softball toss and long jumping.

Robert Semple, the exceptional children director for Caldwell County Schools, said this is an opportunity for students to showcase their athletic abilities and can also practice social skills in a recreational setting.

"We focus on academics so much, but we want to be considering the whole child, and Special Olympics is accomplishing that," he said. "We are focusing on their other gifts and abilities."

He also said the group chose to move the elementary students' Special Olympics events to a separate date to make it more of a community event. The elementary students' Special Olympics will be Friday, May 12, at Redwood Park in Hudson.

Reporter Jordan Davis can be reached at 828-610-8723.

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