Motor Activity Training Program Coordinator, Miami-Dade County
I teach Adaptive Physical Education to forty intellectually disabled students ranging in ages from three to twenty-two years old as an Exceptional Education Teacher at Brucie Ball Educational Center. My involvement with Special Olympics goes back almost forty years when I worked at the Pinellas County Association for Retarded Citizens in St. Petersburg, FL. After graduating from the University of Florida as a training instructor, I coordinated and participated in Special Olympics. It was a wonderful experience with many great stories that I still tell to this day.
As a teacher, I became aware of the Motor Activity Training Program (MATP) and was excited to have our students participate in Special Olympics. I was provided materials, supplies and support to bring this program to my students. As the date approached for our first program, Special Olympics Florida supplied t-shirts and medals for our participants. My students, profoundly handicapped, were aware of the special nature of this day as it differed from the normal daily school routine. As we lined up in the hall to march into the cafeteria to the sound of the Olympic-themed music, the students faces lit up. I set up our activity as a multiple setting type of activity to give my students the opportunity to participate in as many motor skills events as they were able to do. After participating for about an hour, we began our medal ceremony. My students were overjoyed at receiving these symbols of their participation. 2019 MATP went off without a hitch and my students enjoyed both the event and especially receiving their medals.
I have deep appreciation for all of the support from Special Olympics Florida for our students. Our population is often ignored, underserved, and placed on the sidelines in many mainstream activities. Through MATP my students have the opportunity to succeed and experience the joy associated with Special Olympics.