OSKALOOSA — The Penn Activities Center was filled with young athletes as it was the site for the Special Olympics Iowa Young Athletes Play Day Thursday morning.
It was a “United Play Day” as children ages 2 to 8 years old joined their Special Olympics playmates to enjoy 10 activities at the PAC.
“It’s our fifth year here,” Special Olympics Director of Athlete Initiatives Kathy Irving said. This past year, there were 27 children participating, this year, there’s 53, she added.
The play day is designed for children who are too young to participate in Special Olympics. The minimum age for Special Olympics is 8 years old. Most of the children participating were local kids, but some participants came from as far away as Melcher-Dallas, Irving said.
Since the number of children participating in the two-hour play day had almost doubled, the need for volunteers also increased, Irving said.
So, William Penn University students stepped up to help out.
“We’ve been pulling them in all morning,” Irving said of the student volunteers. “They’ve been awesome. They’re so good.”
The college students helped out at 10 different stations that featured a different activity. The children could participate in activities such as ball darts, basketball, batting, bowling, 25-foot dash, musical balance beam, ribbon routine, soccer kick, standing long jump and tennis ball throw.
William Penn senior Caleb Cline was running the 25-foot dash event.
“We’ve had a lot of participation today,” Cline said. Some of the kids even beat him in the dash, Cline added.
Cline said he has worked with Special Olympics before.
“I did one up in Newton before,” he said.
What’s the best part of volunteering with Special Olympics?
“The smiles on kids’ faces,” Cline said. “Win or lose, they just want to participate with their friends.”
Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at email@example.com