Community Council hosts Special Olympics event on Ted Slavin Field


Davis Marks/Chronicle

Charlotte Newman ’24 and Illi Kreiz ’24 cheer on participants at a Special Olympics event organized by Community Council.

Davis Marks

Community Council hosted a Special Olympics event featuring a variety of athletics activities, ranging from soccer to running relays, for young students with special needs on the Ted Slavin Field Tuesday. With five million participants annually, Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities with the goal of providing training and activities.

Upper School Counselor Michelle Bracken said Community Council planned the event because it gives children with special needs an opportunity to have fun and lends a new perspective to students.

“Hosting the Special Olympics on campus as part of Community Service Week is important because it brings perspective to our lives,” Bracken said. “When we watch the athletes compete with such joy, it reminds us that our lives are really not that bad and puts things in perspective.”

For this Special Olympics event, Community Council partnered with The Help Group, which serves children, adolescents and young adults with needs related to autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional challenges.

In an email, Community Council encouraged students to either skip a class period to volunteer or cheer on student-athletes during lunch. To help run the event, around 50 student volunteers made connections and participated in activities with the student-athletes.

Sophie Shabani ’24, who volunteered as a Special Olympics Ambassador, said she wanted to volunteer for the event because she has done so in the past and wanted another opportunity to make a difference.

“I volunteered for the Special Olympics [event] because I did something similar when I was younger and I loved volunteering,” Shabani said “It was a great experience and I had so much fun helping the kids with activities such as soccer and relay races.”

Like Shabani, Shoshie Bernstein ’22 volunteered at the event and said she was inspired to volunteer following past positive experiences and enjoyed connecting with both students she had met in the past as well as new students.

“I decided to volunteer because I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with special needs children and adults in the past and also because I participated in the Special Olympics event Harvard-Westlake hosted when I was a sophomore, and absolutely loved it,” Bernstein said. “I recognized some of the athletes who I had gotten to know last time, and it was awesome to catch up with them. It was also so wonderful getting to know some of the athletes I had never met before. They were all filled with so much joy and enthusiasm—it was truly contagious.”