Written by Kevin Dunne. Media by Kat Kelley.
On Friday, April 26th, Greenville College held its 13th annual Adaptive P.E. Day in the rec center. The event, put together largely by George Barber’s Adaptive P.E. class, hosted around 75 to 100 individuals with disabilities from the surrounding area. Many education majors and athletes helped out, as well as several student volunteers, to assist the participants in the events. Children from local schools, like Highland and Litchfield, and adults from FAYCO in Vandalia and Hillsboro, all flocked to the college’s campus at 10:30 to sign in and join in on the fun.
Participants were organized into about 15 groups led by at least two student volunteers. Once everyone had arrived,
the opening ceremony kicked off with a lap around the gymnasium before participants went off with their groups. There were several events, including frisbee throw, basketball, fishing, face-painting, bowling, long and high jump, parachute toss, and soccer. My personal favorite was probably bowling, because DJ, one of the people in my group, would bellow out, “YABBA DABBA DOOOO!” like Fred Flintstone before knocking down the pins. Everybody in my group had a blast and there were always smiles and high-fives to give. It was truly an incredible and fun time for everyone involved.
Taylor Brunner, a Junior special education major, was also in my group and felt an overwhelming need for the annual program in the community. “I think that it is important that students participate in Adaptive P.E. day, because it brings awareness to the special needs community. Every year I have participated, I have seen such a change in the people who help from the start of the day to the end. At the beginning, many of the helpers are shy and timid about digging in and working with the participants. At the end of the day when everything is over, you can see that almost each person who was a helper has now made at least five new friends and they are all giving high fives and hugs and they can’t wait to see them again next year! I feel like Adaptive P.E. day brings out the child in everyone and you can just see the joy in everyone and how much fun they are having. It is truly an awesome experience that everyone should try once. As helpers for the day, we give the participants games to play and a fun day, but the participants give the helpers so much more than that by really changing our perspectives of others around us, being grateful for what we have, and great memories we will keep forever.” Taylor is right; every participant left having made great friends and I’d wager that there wasn’t an unhappy soul in the building.
The day closed after lunchtime with a wheelchair and footrace. While the word tends to be overused, I feel as if it fits in this context when I say that it was awesome. Cheering on people as they raced down the gym across the finish line was a great and uplifting way to end the afternoon. Each participant received an award and plenty more high-fives.
The event, as always, was a success and couldn’t be what it is without the help of so many people, who deserve to be thanked: George Barber and Janice Barth for coordinating the event for years, Lisa Amundson and the students in her classes, the Adaptive P.E. class, Tom Ackerman for being the master of ceremonies, the students who volunteered their time, and most importantly, the participants and their helpers. Without their smiles, enthusiasm, laughs, cheer, and great attitudes, a lot of people’s lives would be less bright.