For the kids participating and for their teachers, Special Olympics is “the biggest single day of the year." Photo by Michael Swan

Special Olympics celebrate integral members of Toronto Catholic schools

By 
  • June 5, 2018

For over 360 special needs students from 24 Catholic high schools across Toronto, a day spent running around an old hangar at the former Downsview air force base is more than special.

“For me, it’s a real sense of joy,” said Marshall McLuhan Catholic Secondary School principal Rita Leone as she watched teens with Down’s Syndrome, autism and other life-limiting challenges cut loose at the 21st annual Toronto Catholic District School Board Special Olympics, May 29.

“They really come alive,” said Leone, who has co-ordinated the board-wide event the last two years. “They’re a huge part of the school. It (Special Olympics) is a chance for everybody to be celebrated.”

The special needs athletes were supported by over 100 other students who volunteered to help set up and run activities for the day-long event.

“I want them to do well,” said Grade 9 Francis Libermann Catholic High School student Shaneice Mitchell. “They shouldn’t be treated different.”

For the kids participating and for their teachers, Special Olympics is “the biggest single day of the year,” said Senator O’Connor College School special education department head David Jackson.

“I really love and enjoy being here,” TCDSB board chair Barbara Poplawski told the students before the school delegations began circling the hanger to take turns at boxing, soccer penalty kicks, dancing, and the Inuit blanket toss.

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