On Wednesday, May 27 students at Morris Early Childhood Center in the Milford School District were introduced to the Special Olympics of Delaware (SODE) program as they had the opportunity to test their skills at running, biking and other physical activities. These prekindergarten and kindergarten students joined hundreds of other students from across the state of Delaware as they experienced SODE for the first time. Students of all abilities were given the opportunity as they demonstrated their skills alongside one another.
“Introducing kids to Special Olympics this early sets the tone for how kids treat each other and allows families to see what programs are available through Special Olympics regardless of ability,” said Jon Lobiando, Vice Principal at Morris Early Childhood Center. “It’s a great way to get them outside and staying active as they support each other.”
At this level, students are not designated as athletes or unified partners but play and learn together as one larger group. The hope for the Special Olympics of Delaware organization is to introduce families at an early age to the program to showcase the different opportunities that SODE presents for all children. As children grow older, athletes and unified partners are paired together from the same school to encourage students of all abilities to have fun and participate. The athlete-peer partner relationship is an ongoing partnership that is built through competition and mutual support throughout the school year.
Hosting several competitive events in Milford each year including the bowling tournament and basketball skills competition, SODE continues to grow the number of young athletes in the Milford School District and across the state of Delaware. This year over 100 young athletes, between the ages of two and seven will compete at the Summer Olympics Games in Newark, DE at the University of Delaware.
“It is important for the families to understand what Special Olympics of Delaware is and how all kids can be involved,” said Jon Buzby, spokesperson for Special Olympics Delaware. “The programs at this age allow us to introduce what we do to so many families.”
Special Olympics Delaware is made up of over 3,500 athletes participating in over 100 statewide programs. The organization will have over 60 teams competing in this year’s team tournaments and a total of more than 1,500 athletes and Unified partners participating in all events.