Written by Julianne Bass
Willimantic, CT - On March 12, more than 200 athletes will take part in the 32nd Annual Windham Invitational Special Olympics Swim Meet from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Windham High School in Willimantic. Eastern Connecticut State University is looking for volunteers and requesting that volunteers return their registration forms before Feb. 28.
The Special Olympics is a year-round program of physical fitness, sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and the swim meet is one of the culminating events for Special Olympics athletes in the region.
Eastern Chemistry Professor Charles Wynn, who has been the swim meet director for the past 16 years, says he expects that more than 350 volunteers will be needed to make the event the most successful Special Olympics Swim Meet in Connecticut.
Each volunteer is paired with one athlete and assists them in registering for events, cheering on their efforts and involving them in activities while they are not swimming. "In addition, volunteers will be needed for sports clinics, food service and water safety, said Wynn. "Clinics also are offered in various sports, aerobics and arts and crafts." By volunteering, helpers will aid in fostering positive self-esteem, work ethic, and friendship with the Special Olympic athletes and realize what a rewarding experience it is to be a contributing member to the betterment of their community and the lives of those living in it.
According to a study conducted at Yale University, Special Olympics athletes perform better at school, at work and home the longer they participate in the program. The study found that the Special Olympics has a direct and positive effect on their self-image and ability to function in a social setting. They acquire skills that help them gain employment, maintain relationships, function independently and contribute to community life.
Volunteers will be provided with lunch and a souvenir Windham Special Olympics T-shirt. Volunteer forms may be picked up at the main office in Eastern's Sports Center. This event is approved for community service credit.
For more information, please contact Charles Wynn at (860) 465-5258 or Geri White at (860) 455-9196.