For one of this fall's community service offerings, students and faculty created a new Adaptive Athletics program for local special needs students. The program was organized as a temporary replacement for longtime SAS community service program Adaptive Aquatics, which has still not be able to return to campus in the wake of the pandemic. In Adaptive Aquatics, students gave swim lessons to local children with special needs, and per COVID-19 health and safety protocols, these two populations cannot yet mix in our indoor pool facility while unmasked.
In the new Adaptive Athletics program, students have been traveling to Middletown High School to teach and play bocce with teenagers with special needs on Wednesday afternoons. The program culminated this past week with a bocce tournament for athletes co-sponsored by Special Olympics Delaware.
"We taught the kids the sport, we played right alongside with them, and then yesterday, we did the tournament," explains community service coordinator Kelly Lazar. "We had matches and a medal ceremony. I think the best part about it was probably the end. After they did all the announcements and awards, one of our special needs students came up and asked for the mic and thanked all of our students, and then did a cartwheel and a split."
"Everyone participated," Lazar continued, "and everyone had fun. They were cheering each other on. It was so great. A teacher said that three students came into his class right after [they got back from the tournament] and they were just so full of energy. I don't even know how to explain it. It was just awesome."
VI Form students Sunny Trivits ’22 and Madison Macalintal ’22 have been responsible for getting the Adaptive Athletics program up and running this fall, and helped to organize the bocce tournament. "They're amazing, those two," Lazar said. "I can't ask for better senior leaders."
“The weekly practices because highlights of both the Middletown and the St. Andrew’s participants’ weeks,” said Sunny. “And I think the athletes got a sense of what it means to work together towards a common goal.”
Special Olympics Delaware is hoping to expand the bocce program to other schools in the area later this school year, and this winter, St. Andrew's is working to partner with SODE once again for an indoor kickball program for special needs athletes.
"Kudos to Kelly Lazar and her supererogatory efforts to help us serve the community and for being 'nimble and flexible' enough to revamp Adaptive Aquatics, one of our signature service programs, to accommodate COVID protocols," said Chaplain Jay Hutchinson, who also manages our community service programs. "She is an unsung hero to be sure—one who models for our students that service is not always convenient, but always rewarding."