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By Emily Carson, ’14
St. Bonaventure University is partnering with Special Olympics New York to host a skill-development clinic for Special Olympics athletes on Saturday, April 12, and a Special Olympics Unified Competition on Thursday, April 24.
Special Olympics New York focuses on providing year-round sports training and competitions in a variety of Olympics-style sports for all children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics Western Region Teams will visit campus from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on April 12. The event will begin with a mini-opening ceremony, followed by a series of basketball skill stations run by members of SBU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. Special Olympics athletes will have the opportunity to move to each station and work with St. Bonaventure student-athletes.
During the afternoon, SBU and Special Olympics athletes will play on unified teams, followed by a basketball exhibition in the Reilly Center Arena. Each athlete will receive a certificate of completion.
“Our athletic program is open to basically anything we ask,” said Dr. Paula Scraba, associate professor of physical education at the university. “Our men’s and women’s basketball players are committed to this program.”
Two sections of Scraba’s senior forum class, Clare 401 – 16 and 17, have participated in an intensive Special Olympics Event Management Training Program to coordinate the Unified Competition from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 24.
Special Olympics offers coaching certification in each of its offered sports. The first, a general session, includes protective-behavior workshops. The second part includes a set of coaching guidelines for each skilled area of the sport.
“They have been trained to run events exactly as they’re supposed to,” Scraba said.
Approximately 150 athletes of all abilities from grades 4 to 7 from local schools will visit campus for a series of unified student games, opening and closing ceremonies, and the 2014 Law Enforcement Torch Run. This year, the run will end at the Reilly Center in honor of fallen hero Trooper Ross M. Riley of Allegany, who was killed in November 2013 while on duty.
SBU will host the unified competition this month for the second year in a row, but Scraba hopes to continue and expand the event in years to come. She also hopes to include swimming in next year’s skills-development clinic.
“This small event has turned into a big community that’s beginning to include more students and schools,” she said. “We are promoting sports as a vehicle to increase peer relationships in school.”
Special Olympics New York is the largest Special Olympics program in North America and the sixth largest in the world.
On April 2, Scraba and Annette Lynch, senior manager of coaching excellence and sports education for Special Olympics New York, presented at the 2014 American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance National Convention and Expo in St. Louis, Mo.
“Bonaventure’s program has been picked to present at a national level to say ‘This is what you could be doing in your back yard,’” she said.
Special Olympics New York has 64,659 athletes across the state compete and train in Olympic-style sports throughout the year, always at no cost to them or their families.
Members of the community are invited to volunteer for both events. Contact Dr. Paula Scraba at firstname.lastname@example.org or (716) 375–2444.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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