This is a news release from the University of Southern Mississippi
The 2016 Area III Special Olympics Summer Games, hosted by the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) at The University of Southern Mississippi, will be held Saturday, June 4, on the University's Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.
More than 125 participants from across the Gulf Coast will gather near the University's Technology Learning Center at 9 a.m. to highlight their talents in both field and recreational sports. Athletes will choose two sports from either soccer or softball and horseshoes or croquet.
"I've been participating in the Special Olympics for over 15 years, and I enjoy softball," said Johnny Finney, a Picayune athlete. "The best part is the fun and getting to see a lot of people."
Approaching its second year as host, IDS stated that it partners in these types of events to create an inclusive environment and improve quality of life for all individuals with physical and developmental disabilities.
"This is an opportunity for the community to interact and build relationships with people who have developmental disabilities and also provide an opportunity for people with developmental disabilities to be athletes," said Devin Bellman, management assistant for program services at IDS.
According to participants Stephanie Pegram and Bob McAdoo, their favorite part about the Special Olympics is not only "seeing old friends from across the coast" but also "meeting volunteers at the games."
Katherine Clough, general director of Mississippi Coast Region and the summer games, agreed that the Special Olympics was a time for those with developmental disabilities to enjoy themselves but also a special experience for the volunteers.
"All Special Olympics events are important to the athletes in the region. It is an opportunity for them to socialize with old friends and make new friends," said Clough. "On the other hand, the games are also important for the volunteers because many have built lasting relationships with the athletes."
For more information about the Area III Special Olympics Summer Games, or to sign up as a volunteer, contact the Institute for Disability Studies on the Gulf Park campus at 228.214.3400.