Special Olympics Louisiana will host a track and field meet on the campus of Northwestern State University Tuesday, April 10 at the Walter Ledet Track and Field Complex. The event provides an opportunity for those with intellectual disabilities to compete in various track and field competitions. NSU student, staff and community volunteers are coordinating the event, which brings athletes from Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine and Winn parishes to compete for a gold medal and advance to state competition in Hammond in May.
This year, Northwestern State, which has hosted the games the last three years, was invited to be a Unified Champion School, determined by levels at which schools use three pillars — inclusive youth leaders, whole school engagement and inclusive sports – to create an inclusive school climate.
“We already do many things to meet the criteria to be a Unified Champion School with our student volunteers engaging differently-abled people to participate,” said Reatha Cox, director of Student Success and First Year Experience. Cox oversees the President’s Leadership Program that adopted Special Olympics as a student-led community impact project.
Opening ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. and will include the signing of the Unified Champion School designation. Competitions will begin at 9:45 a.m. The community is invited to join the festivities and cheer on the competitors who value the experience of competing against their peers, building friendships and having fun, organizers said.
“The parents, teachers and coaches have a great time watching the athletes compete,” Cox said. “Our students learn from the experience how and why they serve and how to identify ways they can serve.”
Special Olympics Louisiana is a state-wide organization that changes lives by promoting understanding, acceptance and inclusion between people with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Louisiana offers year-round programs for 15,106 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in all 64 parishes with the help of 15,000 volunteers. The organization supports health, education, leadership, family, training and sports programs for people beginning at age 2 and there is no upper age limit. There is no cost to participate in Special Olympics. For more information about Special Olympics Louisiana, registering an athlete, coaching or volunteering, visit www.laso.org.
In case of rain, the Special Olympics will be Thursday, April 12.