Young Athletes Program Remarkable Experience

As a teacher in the Butte School District, Kaila Huzinga found the perfect opportunity to promote inclusion at her elementary school. She was excited to provide students with fun and engaging learning experiences through Special Olympics Montana Young Athletes program. In 2022, Huzinga’s self-contained Special education class of kindergarten and 1st graders joined a Pre-K class to participate in Young Athletes. They combined their classes every Tuesday afternoon for an hour in the school gym.

The students eagerly waited for Tuesday when they got to wear their Young Athletes t-shirt and go to the gym according to Huzinga.

“This program has empowered our students and given them a sense of pride and belonging. As a teacher, it was a rewarding experience to see students with and without disabilities show progress in their physical health and development during the year. Young Athletes improved the students fine and gross motor skills, helped develop friendships, and boosted their social skills.”

Approximately 26 children have participated in the Young Athletes program last year and the school is doing the YA Program again in 2023 according to Huzinga.

“I honestly can’t say enough good things about YA. I know our students really love participating in YA but the teachers love it just as much! The activity guide and other resources are very easy to follow. The activities are fun and engaging and can be easily differentiated to meet the needs of every student. Our experience with Young Athletes has been remarkable!“