Education

Published on March 24th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Dutch Fork High School holds in-house Special Olympics MATP games

Dutch Fork High School engineering student Haley Brown assists a special needs student with one of the games at this year’s Dutch Fork High School Special Olympics MATP event 

IRMO – Special needs students from Lexington-Richland School District Five and other Midlands schools gathered at Dutch Fork High School on March 18 for an event aimed at developing the motor skills of students with limited physical abilities.

This is the third year that the Lexington-Richland District Five high school has held the Special Olympics Motor Activity Training Program (MATP) games and the eighth year it has sponsored an in-house Special Olympics event. Around 40 special needs students from District Five and Lexington School District One participated in the event.

“We have MATP events across the state, but this is one of the few in a school,” said Kara Harmon, director of program services for Special Olympics South Carolina. “We think it’s great that Dutch Fork High School has really taken ownership of the MATP games and gotten other districts to participate. We hope everyone will consider holding one at their school.”

Special Olympics’ MATP games are designed to prepare athletes with significant physical or intellectual disabilities for sport-specific activities appropriate for their abilities. School officials at Dutch Fork High School said the MATP event was also a good way to get the whole school involved.

“It was a great event,” said Dutch Fork High School Principal Dr. Greg Owings. “Our special education students, our athletes and our engineering students all worked together to lead this event and make it a success. We’re just so proud of the work of our students and proud to host this event each year.”

Students designed and named a variety of games, like Hockey Shootout which required players to push down on clips to release strings connected to hockey sticks. Other games included Bubble Run, Badminton Plinko, Neon Night Bowling and Rally Race Cars.

“We designed games we thought would be fun,” said Dutch Fork junior engineering student Brad Helms. “We thought it was important to participate in the games because as students, we need to reach out and give the special needs students something they can feel proud of.”

Earlier this year, more than 200 runners participated in the Dutch Fork Be A Fan 5K Run to raise funds for the MATP games. The Intel Foundation awarded the school a $2,000 matching grant. Intel employees also volunteered at the March 18 event, offering feedback to engineering students on their game designs.

“The engineering students went over and above what we asked for the event,” said Essie Ford, organizer for the Dutch Fork High School MATP games. “All of the games were switch-operated, which allowed our special needs students to have a great time while developing their skills.”

District Five serves more than 1,200 students with special needs, and several of its school sponsor in-house Special Olympics games. Schools in the district also send athletes to local, statewide and national Special Olympics games.

Harmon added, “Special Olympics and programs like the MATP games really just give our athletes the opportunity to shine and show their talents and their abilities. For the partners and students, it gives them an opportunity to just grow and learn from the athletes. These are real genuine friendships and partnerships growing, and we are so happy that Dutch Fork High School has decided to take on this event and bring smiles to our athletes’ faces.”

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