Students take part in 3 days of sports, activities
by SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
It was three days of fun in the sun at the Hunter Complex this week for the annual Special Needs Game Day.
The Coweta County Recreation Department hosts the event each spring. It includes softball on the “Field of Courage” — a field located at the Hunter Complex on Highway 16 East designed to accommodate all children — along with food, dancing, tours of fire engines, and fun times hanging out with friends.
Monday was the day for high school students, Tuesday was for middle-schoolers, and elementary school students came out on Wednesday.
“This means so much,” said Robyn Cialone, special education paraprofessional at Lee Middle School.
“They do a wonderful job out here,” said Manda Alewine, who was at the event with her son, Lee Middle student Cody Alewine. “Cody loves it. He looks forward to it every year.”
Jennifer Williams was at Hunter with her daughter Anna, also a Lee Middle School student. “It’s a great opportunity for the children to see friends” that they might not get to see often, Williams said. “It’s one of my favorite days of the year, second to the Special Olympics.”
Anna was homebound for several weeks after having surgery and was worried that she would miss the game day.
She loves Lee, and Cialone, her mother said. “As soon as she walks into Lee, she says she’s home,” Jennifer said.
“This is a big day, especially to have her here,” said Cialone.
“This is what keeps me motivated,” Cialone said. “It’s the best job to have. It’s very rewarding,” she said. “There are always a few days that are the best time of the year.” One is Special Olympics; another is Game Day.
“Everybody gets together, everybody is equal,” Cialone said. “The feeling and atmosphere is just very positive.”
“The recreation department is wonderful,” said Kelly Abercrombie, recreation therapist for the Coweta County School System. She appreciates all the recreation department does to make the program take place.
Abercrombie is getting ready to take two teams — swimming and track — to the state Special Olympics this weekend in Atlanta. Two local cyclists will be going to the national games in 2014.
“It couldn’t be done without volunteers and the support of the school system,” said Kevin Carlisle, program director at the Hunter Complex. The recreation department provides food and equipment, and music to dance to. “We like for them to come out and have a good time,” Carlisle said.
“When you see them having a good time and out and about, it’s wonderful,” said Hunter Complex secretary Juanita Lynch.
“It’s what it’s all about.”
The Field of Courage opened in 2006. At the time, there were hopes of getting together a “challenger” league to use the field, but that never materialized. The field is currently used for t-ball.
Carlisle said they decided to work with the school system to put together the annual event. “We had the field, so we went to get the kids,” he said.
The Hunter Complex also hosts a similar basketball game day each year.