At Monday’s meeting of the Stephenville ISD board of trustees, Sabrina Carter, Henderson Junior High life skills teacher, was happy to announce that student-athletes have started training for a Special Olympics program that was initiated by Carter back in September.

“The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities,” Carter said. “Giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympic athletes and the community.”

Carter has now recruited 10-15 volunteers from Tarleton State University, physical therapy assistant Wayne Cooper and of course, the athletes.

The student-athletes have been learning and practicing the game of Bocce and will do that until February, then switch over to track and field activities.

“I want the board to know that we’re impacting students and they’re becoming athletes,” Carter said. “It’s pretty magical seeing them do this. Approximately 55 students with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to participate in a sports program.”

Two other programs being implemented along with the Special Olympics are the Motor Activities Training Program (MATP) — which is designed for athletes who are unable to participate in traditional Special Olympic sports due to physical disabilities — and the Young Athletes Program (YAP) — which is designed to introduce physical activity to children ages two-seven with intellectual disabilities.

Athletes are practicing Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the high school during physical education and after school on Tuesday evenings.

SISD board member Gary Sult asked Carter, “Are there any long-term plans to grow this in other districts in the area?”

“Our plan has been to get this going, see if (the students) are interested and see how many we can get to come after school when it’s not mandatory,” Carter replied. “Yes we want it to grow, but we’re starting small and trying to do well small.”

Carter added that a spring track meet could be a possibility after talking with Stephenville High School coach Kristi Mayes.