WABASSO, Fla. — The Special Olympics isn’t just about sports, but it also encourages the celebration of differences both in and outside the classroom.
At Wabasso School in Indian River County, the Special Olympics is a small portion of the district’s motor activity training program (MATP). A requirement that encourages inclusivity and winning year-round.
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”It equalizes the playing for every child regardless of disability,” said Wabasso Principal Rick Bartman.
About 60 exceptional students attend Wabasso School in Indian River County and are enrolled in the MATP curriculum.
”(We focus on) what their learning needs are, their health needs are, physical needs are, mental needs are and really try and help shape them and form them into the folks that their parents would like to see them be,” added Bartman.
But teachers and coaches also say the Special Olympics tests students ability to work collaboratively and performance strides in the classroom.
“So, within my class some of them had a lot of social skills issues where they couldn’t socially interact with each other and we’ve come a long way,” said Lauren Neely, a Exception Student Education (ESE) teacher. “We’ve made great gains this year and it boosts their confidence in many ways because now they’re able to not only complete something but feel as part of a team.”