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SPED athletes shine in Palaro, 3 qualify for Special Olympics in Athens.

posted May 18, 2011, 5:07 AM by Michelle Garcia

Mentally challenged and visually impaired students under the Department of Education (DepEd) Special Education (SPED) Program from six regions competed in special games organized for them in the 2011 Palarong Pambansa held in Dapitan City.

"Our special children gain confidence in their capabilities every time they join the Palaro," shares Marivic Tolitol, Chair of the Special Services Committee in charge of the special games.  "Special children are included under our principle of 'no child left behind.'"

Four venues were selected for the special games.  Bocce (pronounced bo-che) for the mentally challenged (MC) was held at the Dapitan plaza while goal ball for both MC and visually impaired (VI) was played in Talisay Elementary School.  Athletics and swimming competitions were held at the new facilities of the Jose Rizal Memorial State University (JRMSU) in Dapitan City. 

There are 6 events for athletics. The 100-, 200-, and 400-meter runs, relay, shot put and long jump.

On the other hand, swimming opened events for freestyle, back stroke, and breast stroke at the JRMSU pool.  The 50-meter swim is the only other sport aside from Bocce that is limited to MC players.  The other two games, goal ball and athletics, have both MC and VI competitors.

The overall champion for the special games is Region 1 with Regions 10 and 4-A as second and third place respectively.  The three other regions that paticipated are Regions 4-B, 6 and CARAGA.

"We hope to have all regions send participants to the special games in the future," Tolitol adds.

Those involved in the special games hope to have at least 50 delegates per region totalling about 800 for all 17 regions next year.

Players were categorized as 15 and younger and 16 and older for MCs and elementary and high school for VIs. MCs were classified as such since the biological age is the basis for their strength while the mental age of the child is the basis for their education.

"Three of the Bocce players from Region 6 will paricipate in the Special Olympic Games that will be held in Athens, Greece sometime middle of this year upon the invitation of PHILSPADA," Tolitol said as the next steps for these special athletes.  "If all regions are able to send participants to the special games, we plan to request for the medals won to be included in the overall points of their regions."

Coaches of the athletes are SPED teachers who underwent training for special games. Players also joined division and regional meets to be included in the national sporting event.

PHILSPADA (Philippine Sports for the Differently Abled) handles sporting activities for differently-abled Filipinos.