The Special Olympics oath, “Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,” said by athlete Andrew Peterson could be heard in the silent Clarksville High School gymnasium filled with hundreds of high school students on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
Representatives from the IHSAA and Special Olympics Indiana “Champions Together” campaign held a special assembly for all students highlighting the importance of servant leadership among student athletes and awareness to the inclusion revolution.
“Since its inception in 2013, the Clarksville Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has made it a mission to give back to our local community,” Khelli Leitch, Athletic Director said. “One of our goals has been to help bring awareness to a cause we believe to be really special. The ‘inclusion revolution’ is growing throughout Indiana due in large part of the efforts made by Champions Together.”
The Champions Together partnership between the IHSAA and Special Olympics Indiana was established in 2012 with the mission to charge Student Advisory Committee around the state to engage in servant leadership and discover ways to give back to their schools and communities.
Schools throughout the state have the opportunity to work toward receiving an award banner presented by Champions Together by meeting the following goals for one school year; Inclusive Student Leadership, Whole School Engagement, Unified Sports and Fundraising.
Lee Lonzo, Director of Champions Together and Special Olympics Athlete Andrew Peterson spoke to the crowd of students highlighting efforts they can make in order to make an impact. Peterson is a three time Gold Medalist in the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 meter runs.
“My favorite part of the event was listening to Andrew and his story. I loved hearing about all of the accomplishments he has done despite his disability,” Junior Lauryn Young said. “It was an honor to meet him and to have that experience.”
Peterson suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and shared his powerful story to the students.
“Shortly after birth I was found alone. I went to a foster home and was later adopted. My birth mother drank alcohol during pregnancy and since I have brain damage from fetal alcohol syndrome, nothing in life has ever been easy.” Peterson said.
Clarksville High School is working toward completing all requirements to receive their 2015-16 Champions Together banner recognition. Efforts made by Clarksville High School have included fundraising through participating in the Polar Plunge, Unified Sports through basketball games and practices, whole school awareness through special assemblies as well as the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign.
“The work being done by Champions Together is amazing; a true inspiration to anyone, no matter his/her size, shape or color,” Leitch said. “The message brought to our school was loud and clear and well received by the Clarksville High School student body.”