Bates Special Olympics Team Garners National Recognition


Bates Special Olympics

The Bates Special Olympics Club received exciting honors at the NADIIIAA Community Service Awards.

Julia Bisson, Staff Writer

On Jan. 21, the Bates Special Olympics Unified team won a third-place community service award from the National Association of DIII Athletic Administrators’s Community Service Awards. The team competed in the inaugural Special Olympics Unified Sports Virtual College Championship Week, which is hosted by both Special Olympics and ESPN.

The Special Olympics Club also collected signatures within the Bates community for their Inclusion Pledge, which asks the signees to pledge to both “look for the lonely, the isolated, the left out, the challenged, and the bullied,” and also to “overcome the fear of difference and replace it with the power of inclusion,” according to the Special Olympics website.

The college received second place overall in the Virtual College Championship, and first place overall for Division III.

Bridget Thompson ’22, the president of the club, participated in the Virtual College Championship Week with the Bates Special Olympics Unified team. The championship consisted of a week-long series of accessible activities that connected students with the Special Olympics Unified team.

Reflecting on her experience with this project and the engagement from the community, Thompson stated, “It was so special to see people from all parts of the Bates community coming together to support our Unified team.”

The Special Olympics Club worked with a program titled John F. Murphy Homes, a service provider for individuals with disabilities, by spreading messages of inclusion on social media and establishing some healthy competition.

“Although COVID-19 certainly had its challenges, we were [still] able to find ways to connect and compete,” Thompson said.

To adhere to COVID-19 regulations, the Unified team’s activities consisted of virtual gaming, workouts and a morning Zoom meetup to swap breakfast recipes. The group even shared their best trick shots, sang karaoke and enjoyed virtual dancing.

In total, the team spent about 45 hours participating in inclusive activities. The group consisted of 15 Bates student-athletes and 15 Special Olympics athletes who were paired to complete activities and foster close relationships with each other that will last for years to come.