Quantcast

Rice students volunteer to help kids with special needs - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Rice students volunteer to help kids with special needs

Posted: Updated:
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Every Tuesday at Rice Memorial High School, students become teachers working with children in the community with the help of Special Olympics Vermont.

"I went to them this fall and asked them what we could do and they brought us this young athletes program and they wanted to know where we could do it," said Morgan Sleeman, a senior at Rice.

The cafeteria is transformed into a gymnasium for kids with special needs. The program is free and is geared toward helping kids ages 2 through 7.

"We do some different activities with floor markers, colors, shapes, jumping, we work on basic motor skills," said Sleeman.

"Studies have been done that have demonstrated the development of a child with a disability, an intellectual disability, is accelerated through participation in sports and through some of this early intervention and physical therapy," said Special Olympics CEO Lisa Denatale.

It's a learning process for both the young athletes and the 23 student volunteers who plan the activities every week. It's just one of many opportunities offered to help students complete community service requirements for graduation. For 4-year-old Addison's mom watching from the sideline, the program helps her daughter develop her low muscle tone.

"The class goes at a little bit of a slower pace so it really helps cater to her speed a little bit and she really gets a lot from it, she loves to come here," said Deanna Smith, a parent.

Addison's 2-year-old brother, Carter, also attends, giving him a chance to interact with other physically challenged children.

"I love seeing the kids every single week, seeing their skills, seeing how bright and enthusiastic and energetic they can be every single week no matter what's happening," said Sleeman.

The school's mission is to help students develop their gifts and to teach them to do the same for others.

"I hope that they see the dignity in each person and realize even though people are different, we still have so much to add to each other's lives," said Mary Kelly, director of campus ministry.

"I think it helps develop that heart of compassion for someone who might not have a sibling with special needs or know someone personally," said Smith.

Students are trained by the Special Olympics and receive community service hours for volunteering. Right now, Rice Memorial High School and West Rutland High School are the only schools in the state with a program geared toward young children with disabilities but plans are in the works to expand.

"We'd like to continue to grow the program so that we can reach more athletes, more young families throughout the state and get introduced to the Special Olympics," said Denatale.

"I have learned so much about my classmates, they are amazing with these kids. They really understand them and want to help and they're doing fantastic," said Sleeman.

It's a program geared toward bridging the gap between students and learning and building relationships.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Amish kidnap suspect's employer probes drug theft

    Amish kidnap suspect's employer probes drug theft

    Thursday, August 28 2014 10:54 AM EDT2014-08-28 14:54:00 GMT
    The hospital that employed a suspect in the abduction of two Amish girls in northern New York is conducting an investigation into the possibility that he stole drugs from the facility.
    The hospital that employed a New York man charged with abducting two Amish girls is conducting an investigation into the possibility that he stole drugs.
  • Vt. doctor accused of improperly giving medications

    Vt. doctor accused of improperly giving medications

    Thursday, August 28 2014 10:18 AM EDT2014-08-28 14:18:04 GMT
    The former chairman of a panel overseeing the use of prescription drugs in Vermont is facing allegations he improperly dispensed medications to 14 patients.
    The former chairman of a panel overseeing the use of prescription drugs in Vermont is facing allegations he improperly dispensed medications to 14 patients.
  • NH police look for dog, owner after fatal dog attack

    NH police look for dog, owner after fatal dog attack

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:08 AM EDT2014-08-28 15:08:23 GMT
    New Hampshire State Police are asking for help from the public to help identify a pit bull and its owner after they said the dog attacked another on a mountain hike. The attacked dog died of its injuries.
    New Hampshire State Police are asking for help from the public to help identify a pit bull and its owner after they said the dog attacked another on a mountain hike. The attacked dog died of its injuries.
  • USDA launches new dairy insurance program

    USDA launches new dairy insurance program

    Thursday, August 28 2014 10:50 AM EDT2014-08-28 14:50:30 GMT
    U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says dairy farmers can begin signing up Sept. 2 for a new program that replaces old subsidies.
    U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says dairy farmers can begin signing up Sept. 2 for a new program that replaces old subsidies.
  • Vilsack says up to $45M to help Lake Champlain

    Vilsack says up to $45M to help Lake Champlain

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:09 AM EDT2014-08-28 15:09:51 GMT
    U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced up to $45 million will be provided for efforts to protect soil and water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin over the next five years.
    U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced up to $45 million will be provided for efforts to protect soil and water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin over the next five years.
  • FairPoint declares impasse, unions disagree

    FairPoint declares impasse, unions disagree

    Thursday, August 28 2014 10:10 AM EDT2014-08-28 14:10:46 GMT
    FairPoint Communications says talks remain deadlocked after weeks of negotiating with unions representing more than 1,700 workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and is implementing its final proposals, which...
    FairPoint Communications says talks remain deadlocked after weeks of negotiating with unions representing more than 1,700 workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and is implementing its final proposals, which it says is permitted under federal law.
  • Bennington wants to name welcome center after Jeffords

    Bennington wants to name welcome center after Jeffords

    Thursday, August 28 2014 10:15 AM EDT2014-08-28 14:15:00 GMT
    There's an effort underway to name a new welcome center in Vermont after the late Sen. Jim Jeffords, who secured its funding.
    There's an effort underway to name a new welcome center in Vermont after the late Sen. Jim Jeffords, who secured its funding.
  • Ayotte to hike, brief on Northern Pass project

    Ayotte to hike, brief on Northern Pass project

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:12 AM EDT2014-08-28 15:12:00 GMT
    U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte will be hiking the White Mountains and learning more about the proposed Northern Pass project that would carry power from Canada through New Hampshire via high-voltage transmission lines.
    U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte will be hiking the White Mountains and learning more about the proposed Northern Pass project that would carry power from Canada through New Hampshire via high-voltage transmission lines.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.