Photo Gallery: District 401's First-Ever Special Olympics Team in Action

Special Olympics team member shoots a basket

PHOTO: Luis, an EPHS student and member of District 401's first Special Olympics team, takes aim during a basketball skills competition held Dec. 7 in Hoffman Estates. Luis won second place in his division. Click image for larger view (D401 photo by Dave Porreca).

Four members of District 401's first Special Olympics team participated Dec. 7 in the squad's debut event, a basketball individual skills competition at Eisenhower Junior High School in Hoffman Estates.

Each of the team members earned a medal in their respective divisions. The competition, sponsored by Special Olympics Illinois, consisted of the participants testing their skills in spot shooting, target passing and timed dribbling.

The D401 contingent featured one student from Elm Middle School and three from Elmwood Park High School. Congratulations to the following students:

  • Gevryel from Elm Middle — second place, Division M03 
  • Ari from EPHS — second place, Division F04
  • Aurora from EPHS — fourth place, Division F05
  • Luis from EPHS — second place, Division M13

In addition, a fifth team member — Jonathan from EPHS — attended the event in support of his teammates and received a player development ribbon.

Three other team members practiced with the rest of the squad in the weeks leading up to the competition: Alexis and Sophia from EPHS, and Gio from John Mills Elementary School.

A Special Olympics team member celebrates after making a shot during the basketball skills competition in Hoffman Estates on Dec. 7.

PHOTO: Aurora celebrates making a shot during the Special Olympics Illinois basketball skills competition held Dec. 7 in Hoffman Estates. Aurora was one of four District 401 team members who competed in the event. Click image for larger view (D401 photo by Dave Porreca).

The team is coached by Ms. Kelly Swindler, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who works with the special education staffs at John Mills and the Early Childhood Center, and Mr. Jason Friesl, a SPED paraprofessional who works with the District's transition program at EPHS.

"I would just hope that they feel proud of themselves and that they realize trying something new isn’t scary," Ms. Swindler said after the event. "With practice, they’ve all developed new skills and new friends, and I hope they all feel really good about what they did." 

Added Mr. Friesl: "They should feel a tremendous amount of pride, because this is definitely not the easiest thing to do right off the bat. I’m proud of them, and they should be proud of themselves. too."

For more information about the District's Special Olympics program, please click here. Next up for the team: track and field in the spring!

NOTE: To view the following photos in a slideshow format, click any of the pictures below. All photos are by Dave Porreca, District 401 web/media specialist.