Special Olympic athletes have a place to train - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special Olympic athletes have a place to train

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October 7, 2003


Albany- The Spruill brood is training for a little round ball competition.

But basketball may be just one of the sports they enter in the Winter Games of the Special Olympics. Mimi Spruill has involved her two autistic children, Harry and Ian, in Special Olympics for years. Focusing on sports helps build their self-esteem.

"Especially for Harry," Spruill said. "He's in middle school now and even for normal kids that's a difficult time period."

Now Harry, Ian and other athletes wanting to compete, have a place to train together.

"If you train them by themselves it's kind of like they're not like everybody else," said Geneva Green, one of the local coordinators. "And we don't want them to not feel like everybody else."

The management team for Special Olympics in Dougherty County is designating Tuesday evenings as the time to dribble, shoot and practice any other sport they're interested in. Giving these kids a chance to mix with other athletes builds confidence and skill.

"It's not about their disability," Green said. "It's about their ability."

The time together, though, is about more than just training. It can be an outlet for entire families.

"When you have a special needs family, fun isn't always there, and this gives us an opportunity to let loose and be like regular people," Spruill said.

While at the same time, training to be superior Special Olympians.

posted at 9:55 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com