By Dan Plouffe
Samuel-Genest high school hosted a record 250 participants for the 15th edition of its Olympiad for students with intellectual disabilities on May 19, along with 160 assistants and nearly 100 student volunteers.
The event was organized by students in Samuel-Genest’s entrepreneurship class, with more help a social change and challenges course. Phys ed students who ran sports stations such as obstacle course racing, weight throw and pyramid can stacking outdoors at the school’s field/track.
“There were a lot of people here, and it was really a unique experience,” a student organizer said in an interview with 94.5 Unique FM, an Ottawa Francophone radio station. “Every participant will get to do pretty much everything they love, and I really liked giving them that kind of experience.”
Samuel-Genest has hosted a special education program since 2005, and sports has always played an important part in it. Physical education is among the mandatory credits students require to obtain their high school studies certificate.
Among the French Catholic school board’s alumni is swimmer Gaël Shindano, a two-time Canada Summer Games participant with autism who won a 2017 bronze medal in the Special Olympics category.
“For me, the Olympiad is a way to break down barriers that society has of what a ‘normal’ person is,” highlighted another student organizer. “These are our peers, they’re just like us, they’re equal, and this event shows us that we’re not so different even though we might be born a little differently.”
This article is part of the Ottawa Sports Pages’ weekly Inclusion in Sport series. Read more about local sport inclusion initiatives at: OttawaSportsPages.ca/Ottawa-Sports-Pages-Inclusion-In-Sport-Series/.
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