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Special Olympics are back at TVDSB schools. And this London runner is ready to showcase his speed

Now that the Special Olympics are returning for schools with the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) from June 6 to 8 at Western University in London, Ont., Grade 12 student Noah Hunter can get back to training and improving his speed. 

Due to rain, games now start on Wednesday and run until Friday

Noah Hunter of Montcalm Secondary School in London, Ont., is ready to run track and field at TVDSB's Special Olympics after a long pandemic-induced hiatus. (Isha Bhargava/CBC News)

During two long years of the pandemic, what Noah Hunter missed most was playing sports and running track and field at Montcalm Secondary School in London, Ont., where he's a student.

Now that the Special Olympics for schools with the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) are on again, the Grade 12 student is excited to finally get back into track and represent his school along with his teammates this week at Western University.

The games have been postponed because of the rain and will now begin on Wednesday and run until Friday. Opening ceremonies have been re-scheduled for Wednesday, June 8th at 10:15 am.

"He has a love of fitness and sports, and just being on a team and being part of an event. Every year, he looks forward to it and it's been great for him," said his mother, Kari Hunter.

The Special Olympics are a multi-day annual tradition for TVDSB schools. Elementary and secondary school students with intellectual and developmental disabilities can participate in competitive sports like shot put, long jump, relays along with other adventurous activities. About 900 students and peer coaches will be at the event. 

WATCH | Grade 12 runner student Noah Hunter speaks on his need for speed:

London high school student ready to showcase his need for speed

2 months ago
Duration 0:17
Noah Hunter, a Grade 12 student at Montcalm Secondary School in London, is ready to run track and field at the TVDSB's Special Olympics this week.

Hunter, who has Down syndrome, has been playing sports since he was 11. His mom said taking part in the Special Olympics over the years has helped his development. 

"He's really grown and I think most of that has to do with social events, team sports, really just communicating and being with his peers," she said. "It's probably at the top of the list with making friendships and being able to express himself." Hunter's speed has led to his nickname, The Hedgehog, among his peers, and it's a name he cherishes. 

"I run fast because I'm the hedgehog — I'm awesome and I run super fast. I have a good day when I'm on the field," he said. 

'Funnest day of the year'

Special Olympics are the funnest day of the year, according to Melissa Somerton, TVDSB's learning co-ordinator for special education. 

"It gives students a goal to work towards," she said. "Often their families will come out and cheer them on so it gives them something they're doing that they get to showcase to others."

Somerton said that since the Special Olympics couldn't take place due to the pandemic, students missed out on an event that's specifically planned just for them. 

"They've missed the opportunity to have a big celebrating day of their skills and whatever they are able to do. It's a great community event which has something in it for everyone." 

Kari Hunter is looking forward to watching her son Noah run, and to cheering him on at the special event. (Isha Bhargava/CBC News)

Hunter's mom also found that not being with his friends was a challenge for him. She said he now dreads every Friday because that means he has to go a whole weekend without school. 

"Virtual is a lot different, it's easy to push sports aside, and we get lax when we can't do anything. So the moment that everything was up and running again, he was happy to be out the door." 

Hunter is looking forward to watching her son run and cheering him on at the event. 

"I like sitting back and watching him with his friends with the way they support one another and the way they cheer each other on — and the excitement throughout the whole day from start to finish is a great vibe."

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