A group of more than 20 people aged three to 25 with intellectual delays got to play soccer, basketball, volleyball and pretty much run and jump as they pleased at a very special sporting event in Halifax last weekend.
The Special Tigers Sports Day was made possible by Dalhousie student and varsity athlete Rebecca Haworth who has made it her goal to give these very special athletes their own day. She said it turned out to be a pretty special for everyone there.
"The volunteer athletes were having just as much fun connecting with the participants," she said.
Born in Waverley, Haworth volunteered with the Special Olympics for years and when she started university, despite a hectic schedule, she found herself missing the work she did. So, she decided to put together an event that allowed her to volunteer without even having to leave campus. When she started looking for other varsity athletes to get involved she didn't have to look far.
"Now we even have some athletes interested in taking special courses to be able to work with the participants," she said.
Lynn Sichky has a son with energy to spare so she signed him up for the day.
Eight-year-old Patrick has been diagnosed with developmental delays, ADHA, epilepsy and Type 1 diabetes. His mom said he joined the Special Olympics Fundamentals program to develop both his physical and social skills.
"Having events like this is important because they connect people ... It's a fun day that brings athletes together developing a feeling of community, friendship, confidence and understanding. The energy and enthusiasm everyone brought to the event was amazing."
Right now Rebecca is working at getting the word out and finding funding so she can have a Special Tigers Day at least twice a month.
"Right now we are using some equipment from Dal, and toys from my place," she said. "We need developmentally appropriate equipment."
It can be difficult for people with special needs to feel like they fit in and events like Special Tigers gives them that opportunity.
"I hope this is something that can continue because he keeps asking when the next one is," said Sichky
For more information search Special Tigers Sports Day on Facebook.