This past Saturday, September 9th, tennis for the Special Olympics at Golden Valley High School marked the start of the fall tennis season. This program at Santa Clarita is designed to help those with special needs to play tennis and learn techniques for tournaments. Every 3 weeks, athletes obtain a chance to compete in tournaments with other tennis players from different areas.
Throughout practices, the coaches, who are volunteers, and the athletes have an opportunity to not only teach and learn but to communicate with someone who is different. Although it is difficult to view people from different perspectives without any intolerance, as time passes by, each person learns to be more open minded and respectful of one another.
It is also common that most people often have prejudice against people with special needs because of many different reasons, whether it is because they cannot speak or walk “normally”, or because they cannot hear like us.These kinds of preconceptions about the disabled trap us into what society perceives as normal.
However, the Special Olympics has helped many volunteers to break through the shell of biased thoughts. Hannah Kim, a junior from West Ranch High School has shared with JSR, “I was honestly afraid to come to Special Olympics because I have always thought that I would not be able to communicate with those who have disabilities. But thanks to this season, so far, I am viewing people differently than how I have viewed them before.”
Most of the athletes commented that they like coming to practices every Saturday because they like learning and making new friends. They also stated that it is also great to compete against another player because it arouses their ambition.
Through this program, many people perceive the true meaning of communication. It has become time to learn that those with special needs do not need sympathy, but rather, they need someone who can cheer them onto the next step.