Special Olympics Florida

Inaya Premij

Event Volunteer, Highlands County

I recently volunteered at a Special Olympics event held at my school, All Saints Academy. I am eleven years old and I am in fifth grade. My mom and I volunteered for an Italian sport called bocce. I learned how to play the game in a short time because the athletes would expect the volunteers to know the rules.

To start, I was the measurer and my mom was the timekeeper. There was also a scorekeeper and a referee. I got to experience the other roles too. I was helping a lot. I got water for others, supported others, and corrected other volunteers if they got something wrong.

One example is when the volunteers kept forgetting that there were more balls left to be thrown and the solution to that problem is that next time there can be a scoreboard so the athletes could read their score and see how many balls remain.

In one round, there were legally blind participants. One could see shadows and the other couldn’t see anything. I was told to just stand over the ball so the first person could see my shadow and clap over the ball so the second person could hear me. These two participants never gave up and inspired me to be confident and use my other senses. All the athletes I saw put so much effort into this game and worked hard.

One of the skills that had to be used was patience by the volunteers and athletes. Every athlete had good sportsmanship and congratulated each other. It felt incredible helping all these athletes and sharing this special moment with them. I didn’t know that I would have this much fun at my first Special Olympics event.

This experience made me want to volunteer for future Special Olympics events. I understood deeply what it meant to help others. When I was measuring I realized that even half an inch made a difference. Before this day, I didn’t know what Special Olympics is and if I didn’t do this, I would have never known or experienced this special and heart-touching moment. At next year’s Olympics, I want to bring other people to come and help me. I feel proud and accomplished by what I did and next time, I’m ready to share my passion for helping others.