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University Students to Host ODU Special Olympics for Norfolk Youngsters Today

Students from the therapeutic recreation program at Old Dominion University will host an ODU Special Olympics program on campus Tuesday, April 13, for approximately 90 children, ages 6-11, from Norfolk Public Schools (NPS).

The day's activities, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will feature six medal events and 12 skill events on the intramural fields behind ODU's Student Recreation Center. Participants will also be able to take part in therapeutic recreation games between events.

Betsy Kennedy, senior lecturer of human movement sciences, came up with the idea for a Special Olympics together with James Gunther, an adaptive physical education teacher with NPS.

"I run a therapeutic recreation clinic for students in the RTS 261 (Recreation and Tourism Studies) class every fall semester, and I partner with James to bring in children from NPS," Kennedy explained. "He spoke with me about wanting to run a Special Olympics event just for kids from the Norfolk schools and asked me about having my students run it and having ODU host it."

Kennedy said the undergraduate students from her therapeutic recreation program were enthusiastic about the idea, and it is they who have organized and will run the ODU Special Olympics.

Participants will compete in the following medal events: 50-meter walk/run, softball throw, standing long jump, Hula-hoop toss, basketball shooting and T-ball hitting.

The Special Olympians will also take part in a variety of skill events: obstacle course, soccer kick, weightlifting, beanbag toss, fitness, bowling, corn hole, hockey, track, ladder ball, jump rope and "eye toy."

Kennedy noted that the ODU activity is not an official competition sponsored by the Special Olympics organization, but that Special Olympics Virginia is a partner.

"The ODU Olympics is a wonderful partnership between the university, the Norfolk Public Schools and Special Olympics Virginia. The event will provide an excellent service-learning experience for ODU students while promoting the opportunities for Special Olympians to develop their physical skills, display their talents and to have fun," she said.

The call for volunteers to help run such a large endeavor has met with a resounding response. In addition to the students from Kennedy's courses and others taking classes in ODU's human movement sciences department, a number of members of the university's football team have signed on to help, as have students from ODU Ready, a new postsecondary program for young adults with intellectual disabilities.

This article was posted on: April 13, 2010

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