Travis Burch helps his sister Joslyn Burch use the special needs adaptable equipment at the Unified Special Olympics at Twin Oaks Bowling Center Oct. 9.

FORT SILL, Okla.-- Twin Oaks Bowling Center hosted the Unified Special Olympics Oct. 9 with nearly 100 participants bowling over the two sessions.

They bowled as two-person teams with a Special Olympics athlete unified with a partner, which is why it's called Unified Special Olympics, said Natalie Smith, family coordinator on the Great Plains Area Special Olympics management team.

Smith is also the grant manager for the Special Olympics Project Unify grant which is funding the unified Special Olympics. The Great Plains area is one of only five to receive the grant. "The grant funds unified sports including bowling, volleyball, basketball and softball this year. It's unified because they are all team sports and the teams consist of the athlete who is a person who may have intellectual disability and their partner who is somebody without disabilities."

Smith said they decided to use Twin Oaks Bowling Center because it is a larger facility and accommodates special needs. "The center staff is always very gracious to us. They also purchased some of the adaptable equipment for the athletes to use and that is so nice because the athletes are able to use the equipment to even out the playing field," she said.

The Project Unify Grant received by Great Plains Area Special Olympics is intended for Lawton Public School students. "The grant is funding all of our unified sports and it is also being used to start Partners Clubs in all the Lawton Public Schools," she said. "Partners Clubs are intended to promote acceptance and equality in the schools. It's a big movement toward social justice for people with disabilities and it's a youth lead program."

The grant also funds the Ban the R Word Campaign, which is intended to stop people from using the word retarded. This is a national program and there are five areas in Oklahoma that received the grant. The Partners Club will also do a Be A Fan Campaign that promotes people coming out to events and cheering on athletes in Special Olympics.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16