Dedication, hard work, sense of belonging, and unique opportunities. These are all synonyms for the Belgian National Special Olympics. This year, 16 ILS athletes had the chance to once again participate in this event and show the world what they can do.
A committed group of faculty, staff, and students, led by the event's coordinator, Kelley McKenna, ensured that preparations for the Special Olympics resulted in a successful participation of our student athletes.
The year's tournament started once again with a grand ISB send-off. Faculty, staff, and students flooded the campus fields on Friday, 4 May 2018 to rally behind the Raiders spirit in a show of their support. The turnout was nothing short of fantastic. Once the Special Olympics commenced in May, all ISB athletes competed in their respective disciplines, achieving commendable accomplishments.
Athlete and ISB Senior, Oz W., described the intensive training process leading up to the Special Olympics. "We have been training really hard since November", he exclaimed cheerfully, emphasizing the weekly practice sessions that helped him win an Olympic Gold Medal in the 1500 meters running event.
Ahead of the Special Olympics, a campaign, sponsored by the Belgian National Special Olympics, titled #BeAFan, was designed in an effort to spread awareness amongst the ISB Community. Firstly implemented in the ES, a wall-mounted bulletin board served as an interactive platform inviting students to share sticky notes inscribed with positive messages of support. It also offered a platform for anyone to engage in conversation about all topics related to the Special Olympics.
In 2018, ISB Athletes had the opportunity to participate in two disciplines: Track & Field and Equestrianism. They have been training since November 2017, ready to pick up the challenge. Maja Asif, ES Intensive Learning Support Teacher Assistant, recalled a moment when she witnessed the overwhelming joy of athletes after succeeding in a discipline, adding that "It is about forging friendships and looking out for one another". Matt Hajdun, ES Learning Coach/Grade 5 & 6 ELD Teacher and Special Olympics volunteer, likewise shared his personal highlights of the Special Olympics, noting that "The vibe of the school during the Special Olympics was incredibly supportive and positive".
The Special Olympics are also about fostering a sense of belonging within ISB. "The purpose of the Special Olympics is to organise an event that is meaningful for the whole community" says Hannah Peters, an Intensive Learning Support Teacher in the ES. The scope of such an event attempts to also reach beyond the fun sporting activities and aims to promote constructive discourse about the importance of inclusivity and community support.
The entire ISB Community was united under a common banner that embraces our differences and the importance of continuous advocacy for people with disabilities. These shared attributes help make this international community so special.
Please join us in congratulating and giving all athletes and staff involved in the 2018 Special Olympics a big round of applause!