CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – Representatives from the Department of Defense Education Activity Pacific West District, and Special Olympics Korea signed a memorandum of understanding, May 20, paving the way for future joint events between the two communities.
The signing took place during the Camp Humphreys United Special Olympics at the Humphreys Middle School track.
“This year we celebrate something significant,” said Col. Seth Graves, Camp Humphreys garrison commander. “We are honored to forge a partnership with Special Olympics Korea with the signing of a memorandum of understanding. This agreement serves to enhance our mutual collaboration and to create a framework for working together on programs in sports, music, art, education and related areas. All to increase social awareness of people with intellectual disabilities and to provide opportunities for community engagement.”
Lori Pyers-Goodwin, Learning Impaired Moderate to Severe Disabilities teacher and Humphreys Unified Special Olympics coordinator, said the memorandum allows for joint activities between Special Olympics Korea and the Camp Humphreys community.
“We will be able to have Korean nationals come participate with us and we’ll be able to participate in Special Olympics Korea events as well,” said Pyers-Goodwin. “It’s very, very exciting. It’s been a long time in the making.”
As the two parties signed the memorandum, 27 student athletes from six schools competed in a test of physical ability. Athletes represented Humphreys Central Elementary, Humphreys West Elementary, Humphreys Middle School, Humphreys High School, a home-school competitor and a student from Osan Air Base. Events included: softball throw, standing long jump, 25-, 50-, 100-, 200-, and 400-meter runs, 4x50-meter relay, and a 4x100 meter relay.
Planning began at the beginning of the 2021-2022 year and planning for next year will begin before the end of the current school year. Pyers-Goodwin hopes to add a soccer camp, a basketball camp, and other specific activities on Camp Humphreys, with the help of volunteers. She said between 30-40 volunteers made the Unified Special Olympics possible and said children from the nearby schools attended as spectators, creating signs for each child competing in the event.
“I hope that (the athletes) feel like they got to be the rockstars,” said Peyers-Goodwin. “I hope they feel like they had the opportunity to shine and that they felt all the support because we had a lot of schools and classes come and help out and cheer on our buddies and it was fabulous.”