Special Olympics partnership grants athletic opportunities

Garland ISD special education students experience basketball, bowling and track and field competitions, thanks to the district’s official partnership with the international Special Olympics organization.

“Garland ISD tried for the longest time to bring Special Olympics into the district,” said Adapted Physical Education Teacher Vicki Mason Foederer. “Thanks to Dr. [Bob] Morrison, the school board and district, we did a big push and became officially sanctioned in 2015-16.”

During the debut event, nearly 300 middle and high school athletes competed against peers from across the district at AMF Lanes and Bowl-A-Rama. The two-day, first-time bowling games proved to be a smashing hit among competitors, families and teachers.

“It is so rewarding for my daughter, myself and our family to be involved with the Special Olympics," said parent and GISD Accounting Specialist Geree Hayes. "It is such a blessing to see her joy and confidence grow as she participates in each activity and is rewarded for her successes. She looks forward to every event with excitement."

Special education students from all grade levels also showcased their basketball skills as well as track and field talents during four daylong competitions. Familiarizing students and parents to constructive everyday activities is one of the program’s goals.

“We want to make sure we give our athletes an opportunity to participate in at least one of the three events. We do not have everybody bowling, and everyone will not necessarily want to play basketball or participate in the track and field portion,” Mason Foederer explained. “We want them to start understanding there is more out there. Our kids can do whatever you give them the opportunity to do.”

Future opportunities include local, regional, state, national and even world Special Olympics competitions. 

“We hope within the next two to three years, students will be able to move on to an area or state competition,” Mason Foederer said.