The Children's Institute Blog

Special Olympics at The Day School

Posted: Jun 08, 2017 by The Children's Institute

Yesterday was a special day here at The Children’s Institute as we celebrated our annual Special Olympics at The Day School. It is a time for our students to really show their talent and help cheer on all of those participating in the event. Participants even receive medals for all of their hard work!

The Special Olympics is an all day event composed of several activities for the students to engage in. They range from basketball to track and bowling to tricycling, offering multiple options for students to participate in.

To kick off the festivities, personal student nurse Jackie Houston sang a booming rendition of The National Anthem as she put her arm around a student in a wheelchair. The occasion was no one-off event for the trained singer saying “I liked it, supporting everybody,” Jackie said. “The class I’m in, they’re excited. So it’s nice to give back to the community. And this is our community; I’m here five days of the week.”

The individual events followed quickly after with one of the first being the dash. Students had to make it to one end of the parking lot and back for this event. It was a great sight to see, especially with all of the encouragement from students, families, and staff alike. “I love this day!” beemed Cynthia Morelock, Chief School Administrator for The Children’s Institute’s Day School. “This is a wonderful event for our school community, for the students, the staff, the families.”

Since this event happens annually, each year newer students are able to get involved. The welcoming and enthusiastic environment provides an experience like no other for the students.

Amy Brinkos came in from O’Hara to cheer on her son Peter alongside Peter’s grandparents. “Peter just came to The Children’s Institute in January so this is our first time [participating] – I’m very impressed, so many parents here and all of the staff and aides” and “Peter is having a FABULOUS day,” she said. “I always hoped he would do this one day. So, this is a momentous day.”

The next events were the track run where students ran around the parking lot completing an entire lap while competing against other students. Wayne Marshall was among those students who participated in this event, saying “I’m going to go Super Fly!” when asked how fast he was going to run. And he didn’t let his fans down, scoring a silver medal all while shouting “I did it!” as he crossed the finish line.

Joshua McGoey’s entire family cheered him on Thursday as he ran solo in the 100-meter dash. “It’s fun – he enjoys the activity outdoors,” said dad Chris McGoey of Pittsburgh’s North Hills, who was joined by his wife Victoria and daughters Elena, Katharine and Laura. Joshua regularly swims and runs, and his parents try to keep the family healthy and active. “We try to keep them outdoors,” Chris said. “Joshua has siblings to keep up with.”

Throughout the day LaScola’s were donating their time and product to provide the Special Olympics with something for participants’ sweet tooth: four flavors of Italian ices. Tish and Carly LaScola scooped out more than 300 cups of cherry, lemon, mango and blue raspberry Italian ices Thursday for smiling kids and families.

Tish said she was excited to do it for a third year in a row. “We like to donate a couple of times a year to organizations,” she said. “I like to donate to organizations that help children with disabilities, give these children with disabilities as great a childhood as possible.” LaScola’s, which dates back more than 50 years, is set to open its first storefront in Highland Park in July. And, take note ice-lovers, unlike Rita’s, they’ll be open year-round, serving ices, custards coffee drinks and protein drinks, and even ices for dogs.

None of this would have been possible without staff members like Jeanne Herbert, Head Coordinator for TDS Special Olympics. And it’s no easy task setting up for this event. Planning and organization is a year long process that has been continued on since 2010, with each year adding a new event to the Olympics.

Jeanne emphasizes the importance of the Olympics and how it is like no other event saying “Often times, the school based Special Olympics program gives families a chance to see their son or daughter participate in a competition for the first time. It is really rewarding to watch the families enjoy the events! We usually have as many spectators attending the meets as there are student athletes participating.”

When asked what is most important considering the Special Olympics (SO) Jeanne said “The main goal of our program is to introduce SO to families so they will be encouraged to enroll their student in a community based SO program. Community based Special Olympics allows our students to participate after they graduate. The free program offers our students, not only an opportunity for fitness, but a social network which can last a life time.”

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