Mascoutah Galaxy 92, a community-based program serving children and young adults with intellectual and/or physical disabilities, will meet with program participants and their parents next month to discuss the implementation of sports, recreation, and social opportunities this summer. The first meeting will be at 6 p.m. on July 21 in Scheve Park (at the pavilion across from the pool) in Mascoutah.
Mascoutah Galaxy 92 will source Special Olympics Illinois programming to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports, giving area youth opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.
Led by long-time Special Olympics coach Richard Crothers, Mascoutah Galaxy 92, will draw volunteers from the National Honors Society for some of the administrative and coaching duties, but Crothers also hopes to draw volunteers from the community-at-large as the program grows. While initially focusing on athletics, Mascoutah Galaxy 92, may expand into wellness and social skills development programs, potentially including yoga, healthy eating, or just having fun.
“Parents who have children with special needs are frequently searching for anything their child can do to be a part of a team, or to gain social and cognitive skills,” Crothers said. “All children love to run, jump, roll, and bounce. Children in a wheelchair, who have Down Syndrome or who use a walker, just to name a few, have the same desires as anyone else – to play, learn and enjoy life!”
To participate in Mascoutah Galaxy 92 sports programs, individuals will need to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) issued by their respective school. (An IEP is a written document, ordered by a federal IDEA law, which designates the participant as having a learning disability.)
Individuals must also meet Special Olympics of Illinois requirements, which includes a valid Athlete Consent form, a Waiver and Release of Liability, an Assumption of Risk and Indemnification Form (Consent Form) and a valid Medical Form. These forms, along with additional information on requirements, will be presented at the first meeting next month.
With more than 35 years of coaching Special Olympics and high school sports, Crothers has an uncanny ability to meld the experiences of Special Olympics athletes with the more mainstream training high school athletes receive. For that reason, high school athletes may also have the opportunity to team up with the Special Olympics athletes to form “Unified” brackets of Special Olympics while under the sponsorship of Mascoutah Galaxy 92.
Crothers also comes to the program with unique perspectives. While working on his PhD, he wrote several articles on young adults gaining social and speaking skills through social activities. he has led numerous TOPSopccer programs (a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities). As a law enforcement officer, he has participated in the Special Olympics Torch Run, arranged for athlete participation in local parades, organized countless tournaments, and even served as a coach at the Special Olympics World Games. He now wants to offer his experiences to children in Mascoutah.
Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 17 sports for more than 22,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities and nearly 20,000 Young Athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics transforms the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Special Olympics programs enhance physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encourage family and community support. For more information visit www.soill.org.
For more information, please contact [email protected] or call 618-406-2727.