A Winning Day for The Help Group’s Young Athletes

More than 70 students from The Help Group’s Early Education programs participated in the 3rd annual Special Olympics Young Athletes Festival hosted by Mirman School on Thursday, March 9.

Greeted by the cheers of 330 Mirman School students, as well as Mirman faculty and staff, Young Athletes were energetically welcomed on to the Kotzubei Family Athletics field through the hallmark “tunnel of love” with signs that read, “Welcome to Mirman School” and “Go, Young Athletes”.

“It was an incredibly emotional experience to walk through Mirman’s “tunnel of love,” said Dr. Susan Berman, Help Group COO and former Board Chair at Mirman School. “Our students and our staff were thrilled to be so warmly embraced by the Mirman community. It warmed my heart to see the two schools that are such an integral part of my life come together in such a meaningful way.”

The Help Group partnered with The Special Olympics of Southern California three years ago with the goal of starting a specialized sports curriculum in its autism schools. In an effort to expand the program, The Help Group began collaborating with local schools. This School Partnership Program was established by Special Olympics to unify students with and without special needs through sports and whole-school involvement activities to promote acceptance and respect for all young people.

Two years ago, Mirman School made The Help Group’s Young Athletes Festival part of its “Helping Hands Day of Service” and hosted Help Group students in this culminating event to celebrate the completion of the Special Olympics sports Curriculum. This year’s Young Athletes Festival was a great way for Help Group students to showcase all that they’ve learned in the program, and for participating Mirman School students to support and cheer on the Young Athletes.

“The day was absolutely amazing and it showed on all the athletes and students faces,” said Teresa Borunda, Senior Manager, Sports & Programs, Special Olympics Southern California, Los Angeles & San Gabriel Valley Regions.

Pamela Clark, Director of Autism Schools at The Help Group thanked Special Olympics and Mirman School students and staff for all of their tremendous efforts. “This is such a wonderful opportunity for our students and they thoroughly enjoyed their day.  Each year I am more and more impressed with Mirman School’s students. Their enthusiasm for our Young Athletes to succeed was so apparent. They were absolutely wonderful with our students.”

Our heartfelt thanks to Mirman School’s Dan Vorenberg and Dr. Dena Scott for hosting such a terrific event, to Help Group and Mirman School coaches for preparing students for game day, to Mirman School students Will, Emerson and Riley who took the lead in helping to coordinate classmates, and to Special Olympics Southern California – LA & SGV Regions for creating the opportunity for our students to shine.

  1. Mirman School students formed a “tunnel of love” and welcomed Help Group Young Athletes at the 3rd annual Special Olympics Festival.
  2. (Back row, L-R) Jason Vaske, Help Group Vice Principal Early Ed, Dan Vorenberg, Mirman School’s Head of School, Dr. Susan Berman, Help Group COO, Dr. Sara McCracken, Director of Early Elementary programs and Varduhi Shirinyan, Early Ed teacher with Help Group Young Athletes
  3. Help Group Young Athlete at the bat
  4. Help Group Young Athlete making his way through the obstacle course
  5. Stopping to smile for the camera
  6. (Back row, L-R) Pamela Clark, Help Group Head of Autism Schools, Nata Preis, Help Group Head of School, Culver City, and Help Group sport coaches, (Bottom row, L-R) Volunteer, Coach Mike, Janet Jarquin, Help Group Principal Early Ed program and Dr. Sara McCracken
  7. Young Athlete having fun jumping in the obstacle course
  8. The kicking event is part of the Special Olympics sports curriculum
  9. On the balance beam with help from Mirman School students
  10. Mirman School student leads and classmates who helped to support and cheer on the Young Athletes
  11. The support of Help Group teachers and Mirman School students and coaches made the day extra special for our Young Athletes
  12. Running towards the finish line
  13. It was a winning day for Help Group Young Athletes!