On Friday, October 24, students at Banneker Elementary School received a surprise while practicing for the Delaware Special Olympics Basketball Skills Competition, which is set to take place on Wednesday, November 5 at Milford Central Academy. During their dribbling, shooting and passing skills, Special Olympic athletes and their Unified Partners were introduced to the Wesley Men’s Basketball Team from Dover, DE. Showing off their own skills, the team then joined students in several pick up games on the court at Banneker.
Wayne Lennon, guard and forward for the Wolverines, organized the partnership between Benjamin Banneker Elementary and the Men’s Basketball team. A junior Sports Management major, Lennon wanted to help kids at a young age to develop skills and give them confidence.
“I just like being around kids and helping them out,” said Lennon. “It feels good to help out and it is good to know that there are positive role models kids can look up to.”
After the games were finished, the Men’s Basketball team joined the kids in the classroom to read to them and help with school work. Laurie Moorman, advisor for the Special Olympic Basketball Skills Competition and teacher at Banneker Elementary, is thankful for the time that the Wesley Basketball team spends with the students each year and says that the kids receive so much positive presence from the engagement of the players.
“The [Wesley] players show the kids that if they work hard they can do anything,” said Moorman. “It is something that motivates them and the kids love it.”
On Wednesday, November 5 Milford Central Academy will host the 2014 Delaware Special Olympics Basketball Skills Competition. Special Olympics Delaware athletes from across the Greater Milford Area will compete as athletes participate individually and as a team with their Unified Partners, peers without disabilities, in the three basic skills of basketball: dribbling, passing and shooting.
“It is a confidence builder and a way for the kids to shine outside of reading and writing,” said Moorman. “The kids make connections and really start to build a sense of community.”
The Special Olympics Delaware Basketball Tournament has been a success in Milford for several years, with athletes, Unified Partners and families watching the excitement at the annual event. Special Olympics Delaware hopes that introducing children to the Special Olympics programs at an early age will foster the lifelong ideals of sharing, understanding and friendship.