Special Olympics has designated Thayer Academy as a Champion Unified School to celebrate TA's commitment to inclusion. The designation is awarded to schools who embrace inclusion through sports, youth leadership, and whole school engagement.
TA students run several clubs and gatherings for children and adults with intellectual disabilities such as Perfect Pals, Cardinal Cushing Book Club, and the Friendship Home Club; organize the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program; and volunteer at Milton Academy Special Olympics track event every May.
This was the first year Thayer hosted the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program. Twenty-six young athletes came to campus each weekend in the spring and played games with more than 30 Thayer student volunteers.
"While service is not a requirement at Thayer, many TA students are involved in these clubs, not only participating in the gatherings but ultimately planning and running every event," says Maureen Keleher P'24, Upper School foreign language faculty and faculty advisor for Perfect Pals and Cardinal Cushing Book Club. "These students are learning not only to give back to others and to the community but to lead in a concrete way beyond the walls of the classroom."
Maddie Farrell '20, one of the Special Olympics coaches in the Young Athletes Program, says the program was transformative. "Special Olympics has helped me grow as a leader and has been a great way to start off my Saturday mornings," she says. "I have loved seeing the athletes along with the Thayer students laughing, smiling, and having fun."
Kiley Clancy '19, says volunteering as a coach was a highlight of her junior year. "Special Olympics has helped me become more of a leader on Thayer's campus and in the community," she says. "The Young Athletes program has helped me to develop skills and insights that will be beneficial in my future career as a special needs teacher."
According to Maureen, the five coaches of the program exemplify Thayer's mission of contributing to the common good through their tireless work each weekend. "The coaches of the Young Athletes Program – Kiley Clancy '19, Jenna Hersh '19, Maddie Farrell '20, Kaleigh Walker '19, Jefferson Driscoll '21 – and their thirty volunteers embody responsibility, service, and leadership in their creating, organizing, and executing the curriculum each Saturday morning with their compassion, spirit, and enthusiasm."
For more information on Special Olympics Unified Schools click here.