Our service project with Special Olympics has two different components. The first component, is supplying the four Special Olympic Basketball teams in Fond du Lac Wisconsin, with coaching assistants. Coaching assistants will help head coaches facilitate and manage practices. Practices for the four different Special Olympic basketball teams occur twice a week for 1 ½ hours per practice. Practices will begin mid-January and possibly continue up until the State Tournament which is April 4-6th. Coaching assistants will also travel to the games and scrimmages that the teams’ have. They will assist coaches with record keeping, execution of plays, and keeping up team spirit.
Coaching assistants will be service-learning students from Marian College, UW-Fond du Lac, and the area high schools, which are Fond du Lac High School, Saint Mary’s Springs, and Winnebago Lutheran Academy. The National Commission on Service-Learning defines Service-Learning as, “a teaching and learning approach that integrates community service with academic study to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.”
Nicholas Wilinski, the K-12 Service-Learning Coordinator, is working with area high school athletic directors to obtain high school coaching assistants. Ashly Garner, the Service-Learning Coordinator for post-secondary education, is working with Marian College and the University of Wisconsin Fond du Lac to acquire college coaching assistants. Ashly is working in collaboration with Kathleen Candee, the Director for the Sports and Recreation Management program at Marian College to gain student coaching assistants. UW-Fond du Lac coaching assistants will be obtained from three courses in the Physical Education & Athletics program they are: PED 005 – Basketball; PED 102 -Basketball Fundamentals; PED 207 – Basketball Theory and Coaching. Ashly is working in conjunction with Lee Watson at UW-Fond du Lac to acquire students within these courses to serve as coaching assistants.
In addition to providing coaching assistants for the Special Olympic Basketball teams, we are also hosting an event that takes place on April 25th, 2008, Youth Service Day. Wisconsin Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, Congressman Thomas Petri, Fond du Lac County Executive Allen J. Buechel as well as members from the Fond du Lac County Assembly have been invited to open the event, thank the volunteers, and declare April 25 as Youth Service Day in Fond du Lac County. The event will consist of Special Olympians, cognitively disabled youth and adults, high school students, and college students competing together in a free throw contest, shooting contest, and a dribbling contest. Participants will be matched into teams of three consisting of a cognitively disabled person, a high school student, and a college student.
This event is going to take place at the YMCA in Fond du Lac on April 25th from 12:30 until 3:15pm. This event is also being planned in coordination with the Volunteer Center of Fond du Lac’s Youth Service Day. In 2007, the Volunteer Center had 750 youth volunteers from the Fond du Lac area high schools and placed them with different community agencies. Our event will be offered as one of the opportunities high school students can volunteer for.
Special Olympic Athletes who are interested in taking on a leadership role will aid in the planning of the event. They will be consulted on what types of contests are appropriate for all groups involved. The activities planned for the event include a three point contest, a free throw contest, and a dribbling contest. Also, our Special Olympic Athlete Leaders will be asked to participate in the opening of Youth Service Day. They will also lead the reflection sessions at the end of the event and be a part of the celebration.
Youth Service Day and cognitively disabled volunteers will work together to run the contests, hand out rewards, and facilitate the reflection piece and celebration. The reflection piece and the celebration are to take place after the contest.