A Winning Day for Help Group Student Athletes at the 6th Annual Special Olympics Games Hosted by Harvard Westlake 


On Friday, April 14, 60 students from The Help Group’s Bridgeport School participated in the 6th Annual Special Olympics Game Day hosted by Harvard-Westlake Upper School. 

The festivities commenced with enthusiastic Harvard-Westlake students greeting The Help Group students with applause, homemade signs, and high-fives. The spirited welcome – called a “tunnel of love” – has become a tradition for these joint school Special Olympics events and a wonderful way to kick off the festivities.  

Set to music playing in the stands, Harvard Westlake’s Community Council welcomed the students, volunteers, faculty, staff, coaches and Help Group families. Before the games commenced, Help Group student athletes shared the Special Olympics oath, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” 

Throughout the morning, student athletes participated in track and field relay races and sprints, and basketball and soccer drills, playing full games after scrimmaging. Some Help Group students were also paired with the Harvard-Westlake cheer team to practice school spirit. For many of the Harvard-Westlake students who volunteer in support the activities, Special Olympics Game Day has become part of a cherished annual tradition.  

Harvard-Westlake high school student Malia Yap who spearheaded Game Day shared how its goal was to foster an inclusive athletic environment. Malia, who has been supporting the Special Olympics in past years on her campus said, “I think it’s really important to give kids the opportunity to participate especially because athletics have been such an important part of my life.” 

After the games concluded, Help Group and Harvard-Westlake students came together for a closing ceremony. Pamela Clark, Help Group Director of Autism Schools commented, “Our Bridgeport students came out for this event with enthusiastic spirits and so much excitement to showcase all the skills they have been learning, and once again they have truly shined.” 

Our heartfelt thanks to Harvard Westlake’s administration, faculty, coaches and students for hosting such a wonderful event; Harvard-Westlake’s Dean of students, Jordan Church and Counselor and Teacher, Michelle Bracken; Community Council members Malia Yap and Jade Harris and Help Group Staff, Faculty and Coaches. We are most grateful to everyone involved for creating this opportunity that champions young people of all abilities.  


Remembering Rafer Johnson


Click Here to Read More about the Legendary Olympian, Rafer Johnson Commencing Game Day and The Help Group’s partnership with Special Olympics

Help Group Students are Building New Friendships through Best Buddies Program with The Buckley School 


The Help Group is proud to partner with Best Buddies International, Los Angeles chapter dedicated to creating opportunities for meaningful one-to-one friendships for youth with and without special needs.   

Initiated during the pandemic, two classrooms at Bridgeport High School began participating in virtual visits with students at The Buckley School and established a new Best Buddies chapter together. For nearly a year, students have been meeting virtually during their lunchtime to socialize and foster new friendships with the guidance of the Best Buddies program. Most recently, the chapter met in person at The Buckley School for an amazing afternoon of fun.  

“The students at Buckley are the essence of everything we would want Best Buddies to be – warm, welcoming, fun and kind young people,” shared Sue Anne Kaples, Head of School at Bridgeport. “We are so grateful to have established this connection for our students and to continue to foster these budding friendships.” 

Best Buddies introduces students in general education and special education to each other through a mutually enriching club experience. The goal is for a diverse group of friends to socialize together in an inclusive, encouraging and friendly space.  

These “buddy pairs” spend time together during club meetings, which is intended to allow new friends the opportunity to meet and grow their friendship, all while teaching leadership skills and providing opportunities for students to connect and engage in games, activities and events together. 

The Help Group would like to acknowledge Elika Shirazi at The Buckley School for all of her efforts as student lead in the Best Buddies chapter, along withBuckley teacher organizers Mitch Kohn and Sonia Capretta and Help Group teacher organizers Cynthia Mousa and Danielle Randolph. Our thanks to Grace Goldman, Program Manager, Mission Expansion, Best Buddies International, California State Headquarters for initiating the Best Buddies connection.