BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (WREG) — Children from across northeast Arkansas made the trip to Blytheville Wednesday to show off their skills on the basketball court.
Hundreds of athletes took to the court to compete in the Basketball Individual Skills Competition — the tip-off to the Special Olympics season.
“This gets them ready for other sports that they are doing, they will get to participate they are excited,” said Janet Mason with Special Olympics Arkansas Area 13.
Over 200 children of all ages and from schools across northeast Arkansas participated. Most of the volunteers were other high school students and athletes.
Senior Charles Kennemore and his friend Rocky Jones were ready to hit the court.
“It feels great, it makes you feel like you are really making a difference. Somebody’s life that may not be as exciting or may not have as many opportunities. You get to give that to them,” said Kennemore.
Mason said the competition gives people a chance to see their athletes from a different perspective.
“Sometimes people look at some of our athletes and say they can’t do this and then when they see them being athletic or talking, or sharing jokes, sharing life. It gives a whole new perspective,” she said.
Blytheville Superintendent Dr. Veronica Perkins said having students from different backgrounds working together benefits everyone.
“It’s special because it takes into account our students that sometimes would be marginalized and may be excluded. We are trying to have an inclusive environment,’ said Perkins.
For the first time since the pandemic, this event is back in Blytheville, and for the first time, it is inside their high school’s new basketball arena.
“During COVID, we really didn’t get to meet we had to put it off since we are really enclosed in the gyms together. Now, this is one of the first times that we really got to be together with all of our areas,” Mason said.
The competition will continue Thursday in Forrest City, Arkansas.