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Pre-K students grow into young champions at Bayshore Elementary Special Olympics

A special event brought smiles, hugs, and cheers to a group of young champions at Bayshore Elementary on Tuesday.

The school hosted the Special Olympics Young Athletes games for the second year, a program for children with all abilities.

The school’s Pre-K classes joined their ESE classmates for a morning filled with sunshine, playtime, and support.  

You can watch a video below: 

There were tricycles, a balance beam, a parachute, and a hula-hoop obstacle course, which Principal Melinda Lundy and Assistant Principal Ariana Kennedy tried out too.

ESOL teacher Nina Lomidze is responsible for bringing the Special Olympics to Bayshore Elementary. As a teacher in South Florida, she participated in Special Olympics events with ESE students for two decades.

“They’ve been practicing all year long,” Mrs. Lomidze said. "Today they showed what they learned, and they had fun.” She and fellow ESOL teacher, Bee Vang, are already planning for an even bigger and better event next year.

Photo (L-to-R): Bee Vang, Nina Lomidze and daughter, Katrina Lomidze.

Katrina Lomidze is proud of her mom for organizing this event. As a volunteer, she emceed the games with encouragement and excitement.

“We saw a lot of smiling faces, we saw champions being made, we saw children showing their life skills and celebrating their fellow athletes,” she said. “It was an amazing day.”

Amazing, indeed – and a humbling experience to watch teachers helping students, students helping each other, and cheering for everyone as a collective group of champions.

Nicole Meo, Associate Director of ESE, explained that the students are learning so many life skills through this program, including perseverance, teamwork, how to take risks and how to fail elegantly, if they do.

“I feel so privileged to have been invited to watch our students showcase their unique needs and demonstrate growth through athletics,” she said. “Students were happy socializing with one another, and it’s an opportunity to get out of the classroom and celebrate everyone’s diversity.”

There were only winners at the end of the event, as staff and students were called to the podium to receive a ribbon, a certificate, and another chance to smile for a class picture.

After enjoying a snack and a cold juice, everyone went back inside to remember all the wonderful memories they made.