Our Opinion: Special Olympics needs the support of Greene County community

Monday, April 14, 2008

A group of Greene County residents are reaching out and helping others through the formation of a local Special Olympics program.

Formation of a Special Olympics program is long overdue and we applaud the efforts of those who have been instrumental in getting the program off the ground.

The team is now open to athletes and volunteers.

Headed by Bloomfield School special education instructor Tina Shields, who is serving as county coordinator, Special Olympics is based on the belief that through sports training and competition, people with intellectual disabilities benefit physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually; families are strengthened.

Also, the community, both through participation and observation, is united in understanding people with intellectual disabilities in an environment of equality, respect, and acceptance, according to information provided by the State Special Olympics office.

Special Olympic athletes must be at least 8 years old and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: Intellectual disabilities, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require, or have required, specially designed instruction.

The Greene County program will focus on track and field events during this first year with entrants expected in the individual running and relay events as well as the softball throw, Shields said.

The team is getting prepared for the Spring Games that will be conducted on May 10 at West Vigo High School in Terre Haute.

The Summer Games are scheduled June 4-6 at Indiana State University also in Terre Haute.

Practices will continue every Saturday at White River Valley High School track at Switz City beginning at 10 a.m.

The group is also seeking donations to help support this worthwhile program.

Three levels of tax-deductible donations are available:

* Gold Medal Donation -- $250 (Business names will be printed on adult Special Olympics T-shirts)

* Silver Medal Donation -- $125 (Names/Business will be mentioned in the paper)

*Bronze Medal Donation -- $50 (Special Olympics certificate that the business can hang in their establishment)

Donations can be mailed to Special Olympics, P.O. Box 87, Linton, Ind., 47441.

For more information about the program, contact Tina Shields at Bloomfield school by calling 384- 4550, ext. 151 or by e-mail at tshields@bsd.k12.in.us

Much can be learned about life by absorbing the words contained in the Special Olympics Athletic Oath:

"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

This is a great project, catch the vision, volunteer and become involved.