News Article Details

Special Olympics: Bowling bonds students

Valdosta Daily Times - 11/1/2018

Nov. 01--VALDOSTA -- To promote inclusion of special-needs students, an individual bowling event was held at Jac's Bowling Lanes Tuesday.

It was hosted by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority as part of the fall Special Olympic games.

The event consisted of 338 students and teachers from Brooks County, Berrien County, Valdosta City, Lowndes County, Cook County and Clinch County schools.

"It just brings this population together where they can experience joy.

My favorite part of today would be seeing the pride on their faces as they jump on that podium to receive their award for the day," said Tammy Crosby, parks and rec therapeutic supervisor.

Middle and high school school students convened for one game of competitive bowling. Placement ribbons were awarded following each game.

Volunteers included students and staff members from Valdosta State University and members of Moody Air Force Base.

Among the elementary students was 5-year-old Cullen Brown, a kindergartener at Moulton Branch Elementary School, who secured fifth place for his group.

Cullen has Down Syndrome and was seemingly joyous during the event. Lee Brown, his mother and art teacher at Moulton Branch, said her son was excited to be at the bowling event.

"I just love it. It's a really good feeling, especially when I see the VSU students here and the high school students helping, and they are here with open arms willing to do anything," she said. "It just makes me feel really good."

Gatherings such as individual bowling aid people in feeling more comfortable with and accepting of the special-needs community, Brown said.

It was Amelia Doiron's third year participating in individual bowling with her son, 7-year-old Landon Doiron. Landon has Down Syndrome and is a first-grader at Pine Grove Elementary School.

"The atmosphere's really good. Everyone works really well with the kids, and he loves it," Doiron said.

Being in an environment with others who have disabilities helps Landon socially, she said.

It's essential for children of all abilities to show what they're capable of doing in an inclusive setting, said Alleta Whitfield, mother of 5-year-old Micah Whitfield.

"People may count them out. They may not be able to participate with other children, in general; but it lets them have fun where they may not be able to in other settings," she said.

Micah, who's a kindergartener at Pine Grove, has been diagnosed with autism, Whitfield said.

Bowling helps Micah learn how to play with others and take turns while aiding him in releasing energy, she said.

Tammy Greenway is an adjunct instructor for sports and diversity at VSU. She is the parent of Cade Greenway, a 17-year-old Lowndes High School student with autism.

She said Cade wants to be social, and being at individual bowling allows him to be with his friends.

"It increases his self-confidence. He thinks he is part of the normalcy of life and he loves it," she said.

To continue its fall games, parks and rec will host individual basketball skills and basketball team competitions for students.

Amanda Usher is a reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times. She can be contacted at 229-244-3400 ext.1274.


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