More than 150 special-education elementary, middle and high school students from Santa Barbara County will compete in the Third Annual Special Olympics Santa Barbara School Games on Friday.
Opening ceremonies will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the SBCC track, followed by track and field events for all ability levels, including wheelchair races.
“Special Olympics provides the only interschool athletic competition for children with intellectual disabilities, and we are excited to offer children from 20 local schools this opportunity to achieve, have fun and be included in community athletic competition,” Regional Director Sara Spataro said. “The smiles on students’ faces as they run, walk, roll, jump and throw will absolutely inspire you.”
Students from the Carpinteria, Hope, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Ynez, Solvang and county special-education programs have been training for the past three months with the volunteer help of participating special-education and adapted P.E. teachers and aides.
Athletes will have the opportunity to participate in up to three track and field events, including 25-, 50-, 100- and 200-meter races, the 10-, 25- and 50-meter race walk; the10-meter wheelchair race and the 30-meter wheelchair slalom. Field events include a softball throw, tennis ball throw, tennis ball drop (for athletes in wheelchairs), standing long jump and running long jump. Students’ courageous efforts will earn them a gold, silver or bronze medal for each event they compete in. Law enforcement officers will present athletes with their medals.
The School Games competition will kick off at 9:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies led by Santa Barbara law enforcement, followed by a parade of athletes representing each participating schools.
Participating schools include Adams Elementary, Aliso Elementary, Brandon Elementary, Canalino Elementary, Carpinteria Middle School, Carpinteria High School, Dos Pueblos High School, El Camino Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Goleta Valley Junior High, La Colina Junior High, the Hope School District, Isla Vista Elementary, Monroe Elementary, Mountain View Elementary, Peabody Charter School, San Marcos High School, Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and Solvang Elementary.
The event is sponsored by the Brittingham Family Foundation, Yardi Systems and Venoco Inc. It has been organized by Special Olympics staff and volunteers, including the National Charity League, sorority Alpha Delta Pi, Deckers Outdoor Corp., the UCSB women’s volleyball team and many community volunteers.
— Sara Spataro is regional director of Special Olympics Santa Barbara.