Getting revved up for games: Program helps Special Olympians sharpen their motor skills

October 13, 2018

DIXON – Judy’s favorite Special Olympics event used to be running and throwing.

Now she uses a wheelchair and can’t stretch her legs like she used to. Like many others, her condition also prevents her from participating in Special Olympics.

That’s where MATP Special Olympics comes in.

The Motor Activity Training Program is designed to help those training for the Special Olympics, who are retiring from them or who, for whatever reason, can’t participate in the more athletically strenuous games.

Friday, Judy and about 90 other contestants took part in the annual event, sponsored by Kreider Services and, because of the weather, held in the Dixon Elks Lodge. (The weather also was why the annual wheelchair football came was postponed.)

Although she can’t compete with her legs anymore, Judy’s arm is as strong as ever. With eight stations featuring activities that tested grip, hand-eye coordination and strength, she gravitated to those where a she could catch, roll and throw balls.

Her first stop was at a table where she and three others passed a ball through a goal, caught it and threw it back.

Activity coordinator Lisa Olson created other games that test a range of motor skills, some with a feedback that can be felt or heard.

The kicking station, for example, has two different balls, one large, and one smaller, made of different materials. The goal is to kick them as far as possible, past colorful traffic cones.

That’s Megan’s favorite game. She’s not as talkative as others, but she was just as excited to move around and play a few games.

Kreider puts on the games once a year, but “we could do this twice a year – once in the fall and once in the spring, if we had more volunteers,” Olson said.

“I wish we could have one to two people at each station so that everyone can play as long or as short as they wish. It would just make things go a lot smoother.”

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