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Special Olympics has a special place in Amy Hewitt’s life.
A special education teacher at Cartmell Elementary School in Carrollton, Hewitt is one of the coordinators of the athletic program for physically and mentally challenged children and adults in Carroll County.
Because children can’t join Special Olympics teams until they are 8 years old, Hewitt said she saw a gap in programs offered for the younger children. So, she plans to offer the organization’s Young Athletes Program for this age group starting next month.
And, she’s invited children with disabilities from Trimble and other surrounding counties to participate.
Hewitt said the program was created by Special Olympics for children ages 2-7 to introduce them to different sports and help them develop physical, cognative and social skills.
Hewitt said the program will include six to eight weeks of one-hour sessions that will focus on eye-hand coordination, balance, motor skills, following directions and listening skills. The program will meet at Carrollton Christian Church, 310 Fifth St., Carrollton.
The program is open to any child with any intellectual or physical disability.
“Physically impaired children won’t be turned away,” she said.
The program is needed for these young children, she said, because regular physical education classes “would be overhelming for them, because there’s a lot of [health-related] content included.”
In the program, “we will work on learning numbers, colors and shapes – all while playing games,” she said. “I hope to do this every year, so that when they turn 8, they can get involved with Special Olympics.”
Hewitt said the program is completely free. All she asks is that parents come and practice the skills with their children, if possible.
Also, the Special Olympics bowling team will be starting practices on Monday, Sept. 14, at Stryker’s Bowling Alley in Vevay, Ind. Hewitt said anyone from Trimble wishing to participate as an athlete or a volunteer is welcome to attend.
All Special Olympics programs are paid for through donations. Even overnight trips to events are free to athletes and parents. For example, the Carroll team participates every winter at the ski competition at Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Ind.
“We also provide transportation to and from practices,” Hewitt said.
Anyone interested in signing up a child for the new program may call Hewitt’s cell phone, (502) 525-2537.