- Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 13:42
- Published on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 13:39
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County schools, in partnership with Special Olympics, last Friday held its “Little Feet Meet” at Hunter Field.
That was a culminating event for the division’s youngest students to celebrate the finish of their weekly fitness class, which was initiated earlier this school year.
About 60 two to four-year-olds took part in the fitness program, with participation from those in two division pre-school programs, including Early Childhood Special Education and the Virginia Pre-School Initiative Program.
This year’s pilot program was begun under the active participation and organization of Linda Davis who initiated the first school-based Young Athletes™ programs, as part of Special Olympics. Davis is a county resident and coordinator for Special Olympics in King George. In the spirit of inclusion, it was opened up to all pre-school children.
The fitness class was lead by Special Olympics Coaches Davis and Lorre Lyons, partnering with Early Childhood Special Education staff.
Last week’s culminating event on May 3 was assisted by about 80 King George High School students, organized by teacher Dee Strauss.
YOUNG ATHLETES™ PROGRAM
The King George school division began its partnership with Special Olympics only after Supervisor of Special Services Ann Bueche took over as head of the department last year.
Bueche has recognized and encouraged the value of physical activity for all students, including those with special needs, along with the importance of community involvement in school programs.
Davis told The Journal that plans are in place for the Young Athletes fitness program to continue next year. For the 2013-14 school year, a total of five county organizations will participate- King George Youth Athletic Association, King George Little League, King George County Parks & Recreation, and the King George YMCA will join KG Schools.
Davis said, “Through Young Athletes, volunteers introduce young children to the world of sports, with the goal of preparing them for sports training and competition when they get older. The program focuses on the basics that are crucial to cognitive development - physical activities that develop motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and the application of these skills through sports programs.” Davis added, “Kids also learn to love sports and how to be part of a team.”
Each organization will lead the young students in sports-related activities for a six-week period. Activities will include strength training skills and exercise, while the students have fun participating in such things as gymnastics, ZUMBA® Fitness, soccer and baseball.
Davis had also introduced an Aquatics & Water Safety class for secondary students in Special Education that started with high school students last October. This past February, middle-school students were added, with participation by about 16 students.
That program is in partnership with the YMCA, under the direction of Elizabeth Clark, using its swimming pool. The adaptive swim program has been made possible by the NSWC Federal Credit Union, providing the funding.
YMCA aquatics director Vicki King supports the program lead by Davis and adaptive swim coach Ken Novell, with YMCA swim instructor and lifeguard Bethany Aanerud, with assistance from other YMCA staff, along with school staff members.