It’s not unusual for a sixth-grader to jump at the opportunity to spend time around an Olympic-caliber athlete. But it’s not every day that he or she gets that chance.
That’s just what some Penns Valley Area School District students got to experience earlier this month when they volunteered at the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Summer Games.
Penns Valley officials said on the district’s website that it was the first time a group of students from the district attended and volunteered together during the event, held annually on the Penn State campus.
Students spent the weeks leading up to the Special Olympics studying a disability awareness reading unit. Teachers said the trip served as an opportunity for the students to use what they learned in a real-life situation.
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Groups of students were assigned to various sports, including basketball, tennis, track and field and aquatics. Penns Valley students did everything from keeping score to making lunches for volunteers at the track.
But the highlight for many was spending time with the athletes.
“Students soon realized that their jobs involved much more than those tasks,” officials wrote on the district’s website. “During these events they also became cheerleaders, coaches, friends and entertainers, seeing the true life lessons of ‘Everyone deserves a chance!’ and ‘It’s not always about you!’ come to life.”
Teachers later asked students who participated about the highlights of their day. One student replied it was “seeing how talented athletes were and being surprised at their skills.” For another it was simply “high-fiving the athletes and saying, ‘Good luck.’ ”