Students Cheer Special Olympics Athletes
On Diversity Day, Mr. Zenowitz and Mr. Visockis presented a workshop on the Special Olympics and its “Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign.” Workshop participants helped create a banner to present to the Connecticut Special Olympics, showing Indian Mountain School’s support of the Special Olympics athletes. The workshop experience was an eye-opener for students who learned how important it is to refrain from using insensitive words or phrases that can hurt others. Students realized how extraordinary these individuals are in their pursuit of athletic success, making them genuine athletes.
The following weekend, nine of our students attended a Special Olympics aquatics competition at Hotchkiss, where they presented their banner on behalf of the Indian Mountain School community. Our students were shy as they entered the pool area filled with Special Olympics athletes. However, two students, Grace Fowler and Max Rose, immediately took the lead, encouraging the group to interact with the athletes. At first, the students felt uncomfortable surrounded by so many individuals with intellectual disabilities, but that soon changed. The athletes shared excitement about their accomplishments and truly appreciated the support from our students and the time and effort that went into constructing the banner. There were high fives, hugs, and words of encouragement all around. The director of the Special Olympics invited our students to serve as honorary award presenters and asked them to place medals on the recipients, which was a great honor. There were many touching moments when the proud athletes received their medals from our smiling students. When it came time to leave the competition early to return to campus, our students did not want to go.
The entire experience, from the Diversity Day workshop to creating the banner to meeting and awarding the Special Olympics athletes with medals, was one that impacted our students in ways they will never forget.