Running, crawling, jumping, kicking a ball. Those activities began early in life, creating happy memories often remembered after the youngster enters school.
The same came true for more than 250 students participating in the Young Athletes Festival. Through a partnership between L.A. Unified and Special Olympics Southern California, the event was held on Friday at San Pedro High School’s Olguin campus.
The second of four such festivals planned for this year made for many happy faces as students delighted in extra playtime. And really, who at that age, doesn’t want to spend as much time as possible outdoors?
Combine that with many of these youngsters, ages 2 to 7, taking their first field trip. It was a combination that led to pure fun.
Children rode bikes, crawled through play tunnels and blew bubbles at a half-dozen stations set up for them to enjoy. Under the watchful eye of parents, gym teachers and volunteers, these youngsters enjoyed play that fosters development of those with and without intellectual disabilities.
“Today, is an opportunity to have our Young Athletes Festival for our youngest students,” said Kyla Burlin, who chairs the Young Athletes program and is an adapted physical education (P.E.) teacher in Local District South.
Adapted P.E. teachers collaborate with classroom teachers to provide curriculum during classes and showcase skills students have learned.
The Young Athletes program provides opportunities to learn through sports competition, develop all aspects of total fitness needed to compete in any sport, and promotes the development of lifelong skills that will help student-athletes lead more productive and independent lives.
Organizers hope to expand the festival districtwide soon. Lindsay Cecil, a coordinator for the Adapted Physical Education Program, said that one of the best parts of the festival is seeing parents involved.
“We love inviting the parents to see their children be active,” she said. “It’s one of the most exciting parts for us and being able to interact positively with their children.”