'Army' of helpers gives children fun day

Dunedin secondary school pupils at a Special Olympics-organised event at Moana Pool yesterday (clockwise from top left): Amy Frethey, (16, Taieri College) Luke Bain (18, Sara Cohen School), Laura Valentine (17, Bayfield High School), Levi Toki (20, Sara C
Dunedin secondary school pupils at a Special Olympics-organised event at Moana Pool yesterday (clockwise from top left): Amy Frethey, (16, Taieri College) Luke Bain (18, Sara Cohen School), Laura Valentine (17, Bayfield High School), Levi Toki (20, Sara Cohen School), Jarrod Andrews (13, South Otago High School) and Katie Beamish (18, Queen's High School). Photos: Stephen Jaquiery
Dunedin secondary school pupils got a taste of the Special Olympics yesterday.

Special Olympics New Zealand regional team leader Julia Sanson said her organisation ran three inter-secondary school competitions a year in Dunedin.

Pupils tried athletics in term one, football in term two and, yesterday, swimming.

The event was for athletes with both intellectual and physical disabilities and provided ''meaningful sporting opportunities'', she said.

More than 50 pupils attended the event from seven Dunedin schools: Bayfield High School; Kaikorai Valley College; Sara Cohen School; Otago Girls' High School; Taieri College; South Otago High School and Queen's High School.

The pupils competed to their ability, with everything from a 15m walk in the pool to a 50m freestyle, and the day served as a ''taster'' for the Special Olympics.

Mrs Sanson said she hoped some would enter the club system and later train for the Special Olympics.

''It's a lot of fun, so yes, it's competition, but there's a social element to it.''

She said there had been a ''fantastic'' response to a call for volunteers. Swimming clubs had helped out, along with a class of year 10 girls from Otago Girls' High School.

''They were amazing.

''We need an army to do anything like athletics or swimming.

''It made life really easy.''

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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