Community Council hosts Special Olympics

Hannah Shahidi and Zoe Goor

Community Council hosted the annual Special Olympics in partnership with the Help Group on Apr. 14. Based in Los Angeles, The Help Group is a non-profit organization that supports children, adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional challenges. Student volunteers helped with organizing sporting events such as basketball and relay races on the Field and in Taper Gym for the participants.

Community Council member Malia Yap ’24 helped organize the event and said its goal was to foster an inclusive athletic environment.

“I think it’s really important to give kids that opportunity [to participate]especially because athletics [have] been such an important part of my life,” Yap said.

Zoe Roth ’24, who volunteered at the event, played soccer with the participants and said her experience last year motivated her to sign up again.

“I volunteered last year and I absolutely loved it,” Roth said. “I did the relay race and all the kids were so happy and had the best time so I decided to do it again.”

School counselor Michelle Bracken said the event is important to give students more opportunities to help their community.

“Bringing this idea of the purpose beyond ourselves, that’s our focus [and] that’s what we strive to do,” Bracken said. “There’s nothing more directly involved than bringing [the Special Olympics] here at lunch time so you can come and experience people who are different than you.”

Community Council member Clarissa Brown ’24 said she thinks the event helped embody the school’s mission.

“I think this event really helps students achieve that purpose beyond ourselves that’s ingrained in our mission statement by working to serve the community around us and not only those within [it],” Brown said. “I really think that Community Council strives to bring not only the Harvard-Westlake community together and raise greater awareness about those around us, but also just bring the entire Los Angeles community together and unite during this time.”

Director of Special Projects at the Help Group Lisa Rozati said the event provided an opportunity for Help Group students to connect, engage, and have fun through sports with students.

“I think it is so important for our students to have a place to showcase skills they’ve learned and to experience Special Olympics Game Day in the beautiful setting at Harvard Westlake, on the field and on the court,” Rozati said. “Our students [were] cheered on and enthusiastically supported by the student body at Harvard Westlake. I’d like to thank [Jade Harris ’24] and [Yap] and all the student leaders, and [Dean of Students Jordan Church] and [Bracken], for all of their efforts to make this game day a memorable one for our students.”