NHS/SLT volunteer at Special Olympics

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NHS/SLT volunteer at Special Olympics

Jordyn Heckert, Staff Writer

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On Sunday, September 29, the Student Leadership Team and the National Honor Society of Okawville Jr. Sr. High School volunteered to help in the Special Olympics Bowling Tournament. The tournament took place at the St. Clair Bowling Alley in Fairview Heights. 

Special Olympics is for participants with intellectual disabilities. The athletes compete just like our regionals or sectionals for school sports. In order to advance to the next round, the athlete would have to get the best score out of their Division. In other words, they must receive a gold medal. These athletes have worked hard and trained weeks for this day, which is amazing! 

Our two clubs have great students that are willing to help others and their community, so this was a perfect job for them. There were 27 members from Okawville who attended this weekend, with the addition of students from O’Fallon who volunteered to help as well. There were about 1 or 2 students assigned to 1 of the 50 lanes at the Bowling Alley. They were there to help the athletes bowl in the right lane and most importantly cheer them on. Every time an athlete turned around with a big smile, our members smiled right back or gave them high fives, really supported them as they competed. The athletes really appreciated our presence, and that’s what is important. Grace Boecklen, an NHS member said, ”It was amazing because I’ve been considering becoming a special ed teacher and being around individuals with special needs and it gave me an idea about what working with people with special needs would be like.”

Region J Director Justin Dunning said, “Special Olympics Illinois provides individuals with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to develop their own pride and self-esteem, build new friendships, and have the thrill of participating in their sport. In Illinois alone, more than 24,000 athletes compete in 17 Olympic-style sports and over 400 events each year. Without volunteers from the community and great schools like Okawville, we would not be able to host such successful events. In bowling alone, 450 athletes compete and only 2 Special Olympics staff are in attendance. It really takes a large group of great volunteers to make these events go. Special Olympics Illinois is proud to partner with Okawville in providing opportunities for athletes to highlight their abilities, not disabilities. The Region J Bowling event was a great showcase and event for all involved.”