SODE Young Athletes Program Begins, Sept 21

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Photo Source: www.specialolympics.org.
Photo Source: www.specialolympics.org.

Special Olympics of Delaware (SODE) will begin a new tradition in Milford on Wednesday, September 21 with the introduction of their Young Athletes Program (YAP). YAP is an innovative inclusive play program for children with intellectual disabilities ages 2-7. With a focus on fun activities that are important to mental and physical growth, children will enjoy games and activities that develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

“The program puts family members, who are at an early stage of understanding their child’s disabilities with other families in the community,” said Jon Buzby of Special Olympics of Delaware. “These families with kids in preschool and below will carry on these social interactions with them for years to come.”

Local SODE volunteer Cynthia Sammons led the charge to bring the program, which has been successful in other states around the country, to Milford, DE. Introduced to Special Olympics through her daughter, who is now a Director at SODE, Sammons also has a grandson with special needs. She has seen first hand the difficulties families have finding programs.

“I just have first hand experience seeing how hard it was for our youngest daughter to find programs for him when he was little and also how expensive the ones were that he could utilize,” said Sammons. “Then I spoke with Jon Buzby and asked where the one in Milford was held and found out that we did not have one.”

Sammons wrote a grant request to get monies for equipment from the Milford Elks and it was accepted. The program received $2,000 to buy equipment and to use for advertising. “It was one of those if you build it they will come ideas in my head since I already knew that there was not a program like this in the area and that there were children here in need.”

The benefits of the program help children of all abilities improve motor, social and communication development, build physical strength and social skills. Two local special education teachers, Laurie Moorman and Michelle Davis, have agreed to be the primary coaches. Children with and without disabilities of the similar-aged are welcome and encouraged to attend.

For all families and kids involved, Sammons would like, “them to have fun and based on their age, socialization with peers, coordination as well as self-confidence. I want them to have that look what I can do attitude we want for all our children.”

The Special Olympics of Delaware Young Athletes Program will be held on Wednesdays, beginning September 21 from 4:30 to 5:30 pm at the Milford Elks Lodge #2401 in Milford, DE. A “Grand Finale Activity” will be held at the Special Olympics Fall Festival on November 12. Families can sign up and find out more information by contacting Jon Buzby at jbuzby@udel.edu or 302-831-3484.

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