North Andover – The Special Olympics Massachusetts Young Athletes Program in North Andover is wrapping up on April 9th after an 8-week program during the spring semester. Sophomore Morgan Sleeman led the efforts to develop and host the program, which attracted over 30 children between the ages of two and seven with intellectual disabilities. For the final session on Saturday April 9th, the athletes will be competing in all of the skills they have developed over the past six weeks. At the end of the session, they will be given awards of achievement for their participation. “Special Olympics would like to highlight the work of this student run program for young athletes with intellectual disabilities. The individuals who participated in the Young Athlete Program have been introduced to active play in a way that may not have otherwise been available to them.” Said Special Olympics spokesperson, Charles Hirsch adding “We are excited to be a part of their lives for years to come through programs that build inclusive communities around sports competition.”
About the local program leadership:
- Morgan Sleeman is a sophomore at Merrimack College who is from South Burlington, VT. As a student at Rice High School she started a Young Athletes Program. She had worked at daycare centers and really enjoyed the age group. Morgan presented her program to the local school board and began the program. Now a sophomore at Merrimack College, she is studying to become a Special Education teacher and was looking for additional experience and a way to give back. Morgan has recruited 20 volunteers to help run the program and anticipates having 10 – 15 young athletes in the program. Fun Fact: Morgan learned some sign language to communicate with a young deaf athlete in her previous program.
- In addition, a School club was created with leadership board made up of four students: Morgan Sleeman, Chris Tiberi, Jessica Bruso and Conor Lavery. The students took on the day to day management of the Young Athletes Program in North Andover and created strong bonds with all of the athletes.
Merrimack College: Resource Room
315 Turnpike St. North Andover, MA
Additional Information can be found at: https://www.specialolympicsma.org/youngathletes
Additional Information on Special Olympics Young Athletes™:
Young Athletes is an early introduction to sports and to the world of Special Olympics. The children learn new things, play and have lots of fun! Parents say their children in Young Athletes also develop better social skills. The confidence boost makes it easier for them to play and talk with other children on the playground and elsewhere.
About Special Olympics Massachusetts:
Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) provides year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programming for over 11,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities across the state in over 95 year-round sporting competitions. Through the power of sport, the movement transforms the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. http://www.specialolympicsma.org