By Emmariah Holcomb, '14
St. Bonaventure University is teaming up with Special Olympics New York on April 19 and 20 to co-host unified basketball games and clinics in the Richter Center on campus.
St. Bonaventure students have the opportunity to work with young students with special needs during the games. The unified games allow Special Olympics athletes and other grade-school children to compete in basketball games.
Dr. Paula Scraba, associate professor in physical education at the university, said students participating in the event will become certified and gain experience in working with children and adults with disabilities through her Physical Education 399F course: Leadership Through Special Olympics.
“The course is open to all majors and teaches team building, sport comprehension and more,” said Scraba. “Students work hands on with children and adults in the Olean and Allegany area. In Kinder Kinetics, a Special Olympics program for preschoolers, Bonaventure students teach local preschool teachers skills that they can take into their classrooms.
“The skills the students learn and the ways they apply them make us one big happy family -from pre-school to young athletes, to unified sports for elementary and competitive team events for adults with intellectural disabilities ,” Scraba said.
Special Olympics New York focuses on providing year-round sports training and competitions in a variety of Olympics-style sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Each college student volunteer has been assigned a task ranging from promotions to directing the events prior to the games, allowing them an opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real events.
“Seeing the children learn and improve motor and comprehension skills shows just how dedicated Bona’s students are,” said Cheryl Moore,BOCES Special Education preschool teacher at Washington West Elementary School in Olean.
Special Olympics New York is the largest Special Olympics program in North America and the 6th largest in the world.
“I look forward to the event and seeing everyone involved in sport competition through Special Olympic,” Scraba said.