Special Olympics again to host 'Olympic Experience'
Children in the Westerville area can head to the Westerville Sports Complex this Saturday to try on a new sport while lending their support to the Westerville Special Olympics.
The Westerville Special Olympics, with support from the Westerville Department of Parks and Recreation and OhioHealth, will host its Olympic Experience from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Sports Complex, 325 N. Cleveland Ave.
The Olympic Experience provides 12 try-it sports clinics hosted by Westerville high school and Otterbein University sports teams. It's geared toward all children, not just those with special needs.
Some of the "try-it sports clinics" being offered include cheerleading, lacrosse, hockey, gymnastics, basketball, bowling, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and track and field.
The Olympic Experience will include a preschool playground, live entertainment and free lunch.
The event is free, but participants must register through the Parks and Recreation Department. The Olympic Experience is open to all ages but is best suited for middle-school-aged children, said Westerville Special Olympics volunteer coordinator Jessica Hollins.
Westerville Special Olympics offered the first Olympic Experience last year as a way to show the community what the group offers while allowing Westerville children to try new sports.
"The original idea was to show the kids of the community what, through the Westerville Special Olympics, what the Olympic experience was like," Hollins said. "The main focus is just to get all the kids in the community out there having a great time, trying the different sports."
More than 100 children participated last year, and the event was such a success that it encouraged the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department to help sponsor it this year, Hollins said.
During the Olympic Experience, participants are given a medal and receive a collectors pin for each sport they try.
"That was one of the things we saw last year that the kids loved the most -- collecting those pins and trying to get around to all the sports to collect that pin," Hollins said.
Hollins said she hopes to see more of Westerville's kids at this year's Olympic Experience, having fun, being active and trying something new.
"It's just to get the kids out there, trying sports, being active, pulling the community together with the kids, the sports teams, parks and rec, and all the healthy things that Westerville is trying to promote," Hollins said.