STRAIT AREA: Three United Sports teams from the local area are looking forward to visiting the Special Olympics Invitational Youth Games.
“We’re going for the whole week and staying in the dorms at the University of Toronto,” said Rachael Kuramoto, who coaches the Guysborough contingent of athletes prepping for the trip.
SAERC and the Dr. J.H. Gillis Regional school are also sending teams.
“Opening ceremonies are at the Toronto Convention Centre, and it’s going to be fantastic – a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“It’s the 50th anniversary of the youth games and Special Olympics.”
United Sport is a program that sees special needs athletes and student leaders compete side-by-side on the same team in three-on-three basketball games. Each team from the local area has six athletes and two coaches.
“They play together on a level-playing field, so it’s a perfect example of inclusion,” said Kuramoto. “Working with someone leads to friendships and understanding and opens so many doors.”
The coach said United Sport is probably the most rewarding program she’s ever been involved with, and the trip is going to be fantastic. The event runs from May 13-17.
The teams went through an application process and, as a result, they have a plane reserved at Stanfield International.
“Every year we have little tournaments, but this is the first big trip we’re taking with Unified Sports,” she said. “The kids are so excited, and so are we.
“Students involved in this program gain so much: understanding, friendship, leadership skills, plus they are able to learn and growth through sports. A lot of students with special needs don’t have the opportunity to play, and we see a gap there in levels of opportunities for those students. This provides more opportunities for them.
“It’s honestly such a wonderful program.”