THUNDER BAY -- Special Olympics athletes were hitting the courts at Lakehead University Thursday.
The 4 Corners Youth Basketball program was in Thunder Bay bringing 75 local high school students together for a game of three-on-three hoops.
“These students, the special education students in particular, do not have the same competition opportunity their mainstream peers do so we aim to provide quality sport opportunity for them as well,” said Kirsten Bobbie, 4 Corners program coordinator.
And at the end of the tournament, the top two teams will earn an all-expenses paid trip to Toronto to compete in the provincial finals next May.
But the main goal of the day was for the students to have fun, which was evident by the smiles and cheers in the Lakehead University fieldhouse.
“We just expect the kids to come out and have a really good time,” said Bobbie. “We division everyone that comes in the door so they’re only competing against people of their same ability level and there’s no blowouts.”
The 15 teams participating were from Hammarskjold High School, St. Ignatius High School, St. Patrick High School and Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
St. Ignatius’ New Transition teacher Jennifer Mulligan said 4 Corners is a great way for the students to gain team-building skills and to have some fun and make new friends.
“Sport at any time is fantastic,” she said. “It gives them a time to compete and show their skills that maybe people don’t know they have – to make them feel part of something as well, that they can achieve different goals and to set goals and to strive for them.”
Mulligan said the school also brought some of their peer leaders to the tournament to not only help the students with their game, but also to help them cheer each other on.
All of the volunteers at the event were also LU students, mostly kinesiology students and members of the Thunderwolves basketball squads.
Last year 4 Corners was a pilot program that featured four events and a provincial final.
Its success led to expanding the program to have eight basketball and soccer events throughout Ontario this year as well as the provincial finals in May.
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