Hough hosts Special Olympics

Photo+by+Caroline+Shelkey.+
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Hough hosts Special Olympics

Photo by Caroline Shelkey.

Photo by Caroline Shelkey.

Photo by Caroline Shelkey.

Photo by Caroline Shelkey.

For the past two years, Hough has been selected to host the Special Olympics, where students from Hough and other Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools come together and compete in track and field events. Several students took time out of their classes to help set up events and socialize with the athletes.

“Most of the events were walking events, but a lot of our students love being cheered on and the attention,” teacher and adviser of Project Unify Zachary Sanford said.

In order to help the athletes get the most out of their time, Project Unify sets up a buddy system that paired up athletes with other students to make sure they had someone to cheer them on and talk to. This year, they emphasized the importance of making sure the buddy was able to stay all day.

Sanford and other teachers assign the buddies, but will use the officers of Project Unify to help as well. Students in the Best Buddies club will have their best buddies assigned to them. Not only do volunteers buddy up with students from Hough, but also some of the other schools.

“My favorite part about putting the event together is seeing the buddies work with the athletes and cheering them,” Sanford said. “[It’s] what gets the athletes most excited.”

There were multiple activities for both the athletes and the students helping to participate in such as face painting, working the bubbles machine, setting up cornhole, or chalk drawing. Some of the track and field events include 100-meter dash, relays, and long/high jumps.

Free concessions from grocery stores and more were also available at the event. Sanford has helped coordinate Special Olympics and allowed some students to choose what events they want to compete in. Sanford will help others make the decision of whether they want to participate and what would feel most comfortable for them.

Some students compete by walking, others will be in wheelchairs. At a couple of the other schools, the events will be geared towards students who might have difficulty with mobility.

“Others will be able to compete in regular track and field events,” Sanford said. “Some students run a 100-meter dash and are incredibly fast.”

As well as the track and field events, a unified softball team has been created and includes both Hough’s softball and baseball athletes, as well as several students in the extensions and OCS programs.

“We have generally been a better team,” Sanford said. “So, not to pat Mrs. Poerio on the back, but Mrs. Poerio and Coach Mashburn have fueled wonderful teams.”