Special Olympics event a success at Destrehan

The athletes of the Special Olympics were the stars on display recently at Destrehan High School as the first-ever St. Charles Parish Public Schools Special Olympics competition took place.

The school district partnered with Bayouland Special Olympics for the event and plans are for this to be the first of many such events. The scene was colorful and vibrant with a crowd supporting the athletes, signs on display for the competitors made through the artistic talents of students at schools throughout the parish and numerous student volunteers and cheering sections, many of which comprised of district athletes and teams from other sports and competitions.

“We intend to sustain these events and carry this on in the future,” said Shawn Crochet, special education instructional facilitator for St. Charles Parish Public Schools. “This is a sub-event under the umbrella of Bayouland Special Olympics, who we’re partnered with. Our athletes are now connected with the Special Olympics and will be able to compete in local and state competitions through our events.”

Crochet said the support shown for the event was “incredible.”

“By (the school district) and our community in general. Being a part of this is honestly the single coolest thing I’ve ever done as an educator, just seeing all of this come together,” he said. 

Destrehan principal Jason Madere said when he was approached about using DHS facilities for the event, it was a no-brainer – and it was decided to take things up a notch from there. 

“We wanted to get the kids out here, our students to be a part of it,” Madere said. “It’s great having them out here cheering. We got with our coaches and told them about it. Nothing about it was like pulling teeth – it was how can we help and what can we do. (The athletic teams) are wearing their uniforms and showing support and that’s pretty cool … unless you have a brother or sister who’s competed in Special Olympics, they may never have had the chance to be a part of an event like this, but now they’re exposed to it.”

Madere said Crochet was especially driven to make the event happen, and credited him for truly getting the ball rolling. 

“Kudos are deserved to everyone involved with this, but he was really the backbone. He did a lot of work to get this to where it is,” Madere said. 

Events included 25 and 50 meter runs (in categories of assisted, wheelchair and individual), standing long jump, softball throw and tennis ball throw. 

There were also gross motor and fine motor activities, as well as cornhole and bowling. There was a quiet place for students with sensory needs, while art students built and decorated a special castle with arts and crafts. 

“We just told them, ‘this is what we need,’ and they came up with it,” said Mendy Van Hoven, special education director of St. Charles Parish schools, of the art students. “Seeing all of the signs from different schools supporting the competitors and the students here to cheer them on, it’s great and next year it will be even better.”


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