I was privileged to get to spend time at a Special Olympics Young Athletes program in Colby. There were athletes and families from all over Northwest Kansas. I was so excited to get the opportunity to speak to this group. When my son was younger, he participated in a Young Athlete's event and talks about it to this day. He really wanted to come with me, but chose to go turkey hunting instead. It's a hard choice when events happen on the weekend Dad and Grandpa are going hunting
I didn't talk for very long because the athletes didn't come to listen to me, they came to play. Plus, Young Athletes means ages 3-7. At that age, even a crown and service dog can't begin to compete with all the fun sports equipment set up all over the gym. What a great opportunity to get to work on motor skills and eye-hand coordination while just having a great time. My favorite part was watching their minds work and figure out new and unexpected ways to use the equipment. One boy chose to pick up the bar with its supports meant as a "step over" in the obstacle course and use it as pretend bar bells. It was so much fun to watch them having such a great time. They all had family members there cheering them on and helping them succeed. One family all had matching t-shirts to support their athlete. These athletes are definitely being helped to succeed big time in life.
For those who don't know, Special Olympics was started with a purpose.: "Participation develops each individual's self-esteem and self-confidence while enhancing the social, psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of an individual's life." We all need that. We all need to find something in our lives to develop those five areas: social, psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual. These athletes are well on their way.
One of my favorite parts of any event is getting to talk with the staff and families present. I had such a great time doing just that. And, I got to use my thankful journal for the very first time and got some entries. What a day to bring out the thankfulness in everyone.