Spring Special Olympics comes to Kinston High School
Kinston Free Press - 5/12/2017
May 12--Football season isn't for a few more months, but the field at Kinston High School was buzzing with activity Thursday.
The school once again played host to the spring Special Olympics.
More than 300 student-athletes from across Lenoir County and the RHA Howell Care Center met at KHS to compete, spend time with some of their favorite Disney characters, played by North Lenoir High School students, and spend time with their friends.
"It's an all about them day," said Ginger Harrison, self-contained exceptional children teacher at Woodington Middle School. "They also get to do some things we do day-to-day that we might take for granted. Simple things like ordering from the food table or playing in the bouncy house. It really gives them a chance to see the world outside of their classroom."
At WMS, Harrison said her students are kept in a self-contained classroom, meaning they don't get to spend a lot of time with students who are not in their class. While at the Special Olympics, those students spend an entire day playing with students from across the county.
Students participating in this year's Special Olympics competed in 50-meter dashes and walks, softball throws and long jump competitions.
"It's one of the best days of the school year, I think," said Melissa McCoy, Special Olympics N.C. Lenoir County local coordinator. "It's a day for them to have some friendly competition. They get to hang out with kids from other schools and all the characters we have out here."
McCoy said the Special Olympics is also a confidence builder for students who might not always feel confident in themselves or their abilities.
"Unfortunately, sometimes in society, there is somewhat of a stigma attached to having a disability," she said.
"People's views are they (disabled students) aren't capable of doing the normal things we can do," Harrison said. "But they are quite capable. Their ultimate goal in this is to be functional people in society just like everybody else."
Supporting students competing in this year's games were staff from Lenoir County Parks and Recreation and students from middle and high schools across the county, who volunteered their Thursday to assist their classmates with events and helping to root them on.
From the KHS stands, parents like Felicia Bell were also cheering students on.
Bell said she was at the school to support her daughter, Aynna Coward, a North Lenoir student, as she competed in the games.
"I think it's a really great experience for her, for all the special needs people here," Bell said. "It's good for them to meet other people like them and for these other people to get this together for them."
Dustin George can be reached at 252-559-1077 or Dustin.George@Kinston.com.
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