We love our partners, especially when they host us at their camp! This past Thursday, August 13th, Special Olympics Massachusetts was lucky enough to visit Grotonwood Camp in Groton, MA to run a skills day competition. Adults with intellectual disabilities in the Grotonwood program participated in throwing, kicking, hitting and running drills topped off with a closing ceremony complete with Special Olympics Medals. This event would not have been as successful without the help of another group of partners – four members of the EMC2 finance department from Hopkinton, MA who helped out on one of the volunteer days provided by the company.
The day began with EMC2 helping to set up the sports programming. The organizer and head of the department Jay discussed his company’s generous philosophy on volunteerism “At EMC we have several volunteer days that the company gives us to do events like this. It’s a great way to get out into the community, build teamwork with the people you work with and do some great work with a great organization. That’s what we love about it.”
Jay and his department have chosen to Support Special Olympics Massachusetts with their volunteer days for the past few years. “We have done several events with Special Olympics.” Said Jay, adding “Last year we did a track meet at Attleboro High School where we brought 30-40 people from EMC down there and helped out. We were escorts for some of the young athletes and did an awards presentation and things like that and we all had a great time.”
When asked about why volunteering is so rewarding, Jeff, another EMC2 employee added “I guess I like actually getting involved and seeing how happy they [the Special Olympics participants] are because it’s a world we’re not that familiar with when we’re stuck in the office, so seeing it happen and actually making a difference is probably the most rewarding.”
Jay added that one of the highlights of the volunteer days was “The first event, just seeing the joy in the kids’ eyes as they competed in some of the events. They face so many obstacles in their lives. If we can give them something to be happy about some sort of joy, that makes us all feel very good and it makes them feel good, more importantly.” This experience has inspired Jay and his department to return again and again.
On this day, there was much joy. The campers from Grotonwood made their way through four stations that were designed to test their skills and get their hear rate up. Most importantly, the stations all led to excessive smiling. One of the participants, Tabitha, mentioned “I liked playing kickball a lot. It helps with my self-esteem. I have low self-esteem. Today helped.”
Danielle Mosher, one of the staff members at Grotonwood explained their history and why a partnership makes sense “We’ve been serving adults for over 50 years and we have been watching what Special Olympics has been doing and it’s [sports] something a lot of our campers are really passionate about. We actually went to the competition at Fitchburg State University this spring and that was such a wonderful, successful event so this was definitely an organization we wanted to get involved with and we wanted to be a part of.”
This is the first season Special Olympics Massachusetts and Grotonwood Camp have collaborated to provide athletic opportunities for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults. Danielle described the summer’s first event “I think it [the highlight] was probably the kids making a tunnel and seeing the encouragement and the teamwork that was developing between staff and kids and adults with disabilities.” As we learned later in the day, the tunnel is two lines of Grotonwood’s day campers cheering for and high fiving the athletes after the medal ceremony. This provided a wonderful end to an excellent event and really showed the camp spirit shared by all.
Photos from the Event can be seen on the SOMA Smugmug Page.