Twenty-four special education students waved to the crowd and enjoyed cheering from the stands on a warm Tuesday morning at the Helix Charter High School football field.
They recieved Olympic-style medals for sporting events at the second annual Helix Charter High School Games of Champions.
Students ages 13 to 22 enthusiastically took part in bowling, basketball, soccer goal challenge, agility course and a long-ball challenge. The students have moderate to severe developmental issues and orthopedic impairments.
The Helix Highlander band, ASB, cheerleaders and dancers encouraged the althletes from the field and stands. More than 100 volunteers helped the students through the athletic drills.
All participants received a medal for their efforts.
Students from several classes assembled in the stands and listened to a talk by Miss La Mesa Lindsey Palser about disability awareness and the hurtfulness of name-calling. The talk was part of a "R-word" campaign featured on www.r-word.org.
“Our goal is to encourage students, staff and community members to have a conversation about the use of the word ‘retarded’ and pledge their support to build awareness and end the use of the ‘r-word’ in our community,” Kim Fleming, special educator and staff supervisor of the event said in a statement.
“Most people—teenaged students in particular—don't think of this word as hate speech, but that's exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and friends.”
Helix senior Faith Leaupepe Tele spearheaded this year’s event, and worked with students and staff to coordinate the activities and participants.