Special education students from six area high schools descended on the University of Windsor’s St. Dennis Athletic Centre today to take part in the 4 Corners Youth Sport Competition which provides competition opportunities to high school students with intellectual disabilities.
Also in attendance were parents, teachers and students from the schools to cheer on the participants as well as members of the Windsor Police Service, including Chief Frederick, Deputy Derrus, the Emergency Services Unit, as well as roughly fifteen sworn officers.
“The police are here because [Special Olympics Ontario is] the charity of choice for all of Ontario law enforcement. Windsor police have always been a massive supporter of Special Olympics and we’re fortunate enough to have about twenty officers out here that are cheering us on,” stated Kirsten Bobbie, the 4 Corners Project Coordinator for Special Olympics Ontario.
This season 4 Corners will feature 8 basketball, and 8 indoor soccer regional qualifying events with each regional qualifying event featuring roughly 50 local high school students, 25 educators, and 20 event day volunteers.
“This is great because high school students[in] special education classes, don’t have the opportunity to compete in a formal competition setting as their mainstream peers do. We’re giving them the opportunity to come out, compete on behalf of their school and [have] a chance to go on to the finals,” said Bobbie.
“[Police] affiliation with Special Olympics has been over 25 years and we’re here to support our local athletes competing in the 4 corners soccer tournament,” explained Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick.
“Twenty-five years ago, the Chiefs of the day decided that [Special Olympics] would be our charity of choice and I’m very proud of that decision, as I’m now the chair of that committee for the province of Ontario and it holds a very special place in our hearts,” said Frederick who commented that he was inspired by the event. “The centre of attention today will be the athletes and you’ll see that when they compete that they bring so much teamwork and so much camaraderie … they bring all the great traits of any good citizen and we love being around them.”
“We’re cheerleading for CCH!” commented Meagan Sadlier who was in attendance at the event. Sadlier attends CCH and believes that programs like this help participants grow and have fun at the same time.
“This is huge [since] everyone is the same age, coming from schools, and they’ve got their teachers, and parents as support here. It’s not only the athletic side of it, [but] it’s the social side as well … being in an environment where you’re competing, but also learning the social skills of being on a team,” said Matt Mills who also works for Special Olympics Ontario.
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.