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Students take part in Special Olympics multi-sport day

Over 200 elementary students from 18 schools in Thunder Bay tried out different sports at Lakehead University on Thursday.

THUNDER BAY – The Lakehead University CJ Sanders Fieldhouse was a beehive of activity on Thursday.

Over 200 elementary school students from 18 different schools across the city participated in a variety of activities for Special Olympics Thunder Bay’s multi-sport day.

“It’s neat to see all of the kids running around and participating, especially those that are playing sports for the very first time today,” said Keith Nutley, Special Olympics Thunder Bay volunteer.

“This is really an introduction to Special Olympics. What we want to do is introduce them to sports at a young age so that when they get to high school, they are aware of the Special Olympics program.

“Then the big thing for us is that after they graduate high school, there’s the community program where you can play to whatever age. We have some bowlers that are 60 years of age and are still competing.”

Among the sports that were available for students to try on Thursday were soccer, baseball, hockey and basketball.

“This is really our big event of the year,” Nutley said. “We have all three school boards involved, along with the police service to greet the students as they come into the gym, which is pretty great to see.”

Cody Jansma, vice-president of operations for Special Olympics Ontario, flew up from Toronto to take part in the event.

“Everyone’s been having a blast,” Jansma said. “I think it’s been a great day and a lot of fun.

“I’m sure the students all think it’s a lot better than just sitting in school all day.”

Like Nutley, Jansma hopes the event will be a springboard for more youth to get involved with Special Olympics as they get older.

“A lot of these stations are set up to work on mobility and get the kids moving, in addition to being an introduction to certain sports,” Jansma said.

“As they go along, maybe they’ll branch out to playing basketball, hockey or soccer.”

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