It was a special day.
About 200 special-needs children and their families from PS 811 in Sheepshead Bay got a taste of the Olympics during the school’s annual Summer Block Party on Haring Street on Aug. 3. Students learned about the upcoming world games in Rio as part of their summer curriculum and had the opportunity to compete in some activities themselves, said one of the school’s teachers.
“The theme of the summer was learning about the upcoming Olympics in Rio. They learned where Rio is, the different types of sports — swimming, diving, badminton,” said Matt Gorin. “It was beautiful, all the students were engaged.”
School principal Antoinette Rose started the block party five years ago as a celebration of all of the student’s hard work during the summer months — and as one last hoorah before the school year begins again in the fall, said organizer Marcia Cacaci.
The students, ages 12–21, applied what they learned about competition and sportsmanship in the classroom to games such as a bean-bag toss, said Gorin.
“We did projects in and out of the classroom based on the sports, we learned about cooperation and sportsmanship, which was a very big focus having the students engage in the sport to the best of their ability and to interact with their peers appropriately,” he said.
And the students thoroughly enjoyed speeding down the water slide and jumping on the bouncy castle — activities they don’t get to do often, said Cacaci.
“Students — who wouldn’t have the opportunity to participate in events like a water slide because of the nature of their disabilities — were able to. We celebrate our students’ abilities rather than their disabilities,” she said. “This was their way of doing physical things just like the athletes do, but in their own way.”