By Kelli Gile
WALNUT – Four Suzanne Middle School student-athletes participated in the Special Olympics Southern California held May 18 at John Muir High in Pasadena.
Several months before the games, the children began training with adapted physical education (APE) teacher Greg Sasaki.
“Preparing is its own challenge,” said special education teacher Melanie Kobayashi.
The children had to learn that the very loud sound from the starter pistol was the cue to begin racing.
“Loud sounds can be very disturbing to people with autism and the students had to get accustomed to that and react appropriately,” she explained.
The racers learned how to take their place at the starter line and run in the lane, focusing on themselves, not the stranger competing next to them, all the way to the finish line.
And they had to do it with hundreds of unfamiliar faces around them in a place they had never been before.
All four students participated in either a 25-meter walk or run earning the highest reward – a 1st Place blue ribbon.
They also received green participation ribbons in the softball throw event.
To prepare for the ball throw, they had to learn to step and throw overhand from behind the line.
“They were amazing!” Kobayashi shared.
“It was a lot of work and they made us very proud!”