Veronica Adams Photography had the privilege of being part of a fantastic event yesterday, Special Survivor Games, hosted at Peterson Elementary School in Naperville, Illinois.
Special Survivor Games was started by a neighbor of mine, Kristen and her daughters Marissa & Tessa in 2012. It is an annual event where special needs students of Indian Prairie School District 204, along with their peer buddies, compete against each other in a variety of relay races. This idea of Special Survivor Games was inspired by a friendship between Marissa and her peer buddy, Sean.
Ironically, I bumped into a high school friend who was there with her family. It was their first time attending, but definitely not their last. The games have grown rapidly over the past 4 years, and word is being spread between schools, with 17 different District 204 Schools represented this past year – so make sure to keep an eye out for this next year.
My son Nik volunteered to take the photographs for the event – so I want to give him all the photo cred’s. It was so fun to watch the excitement and smiles on the children’s faces and the parents as well.
Click on the link if you participated in the event. The images are available for you to view, share and download at: http://veronicaadamsphotography.pixieset.com/specialsurvivorgames/
The gallery is password protected. You should have received an email from Kristen Kucharski that included the required password. Contact me if you have any questions.
Click on this link to view a news segment posted by NCTV17: http://youtu.be/lVwGIv4yXLo
I also want to include what Kristen wrote explaining how SSG came to be. I find it amazing how the action of 3 people can make an impact on the hearts of so many others.
Since 2008, we as a family (The Kucharski Family) have run Survivor Games each summer in our backyard for the neighborhood and school friends. The event began with 21 kids and grew to 75 kids the summer of 2014. Kids ranging in age from 5-14 come to our backyard to play a series of relay style games/races, all having the time of their life competing against each other while carrying an egg on a spoon (so to say). My daughters, Marissa and Tessa have always actively participated as peer buddies to their special needs peers in their mainstreamed schools and have loved every minute of it. Marissa (now 14 years old) has a very special friend, Sean, that she met in kindergarten and has formed a very special relationship with him over the years Marissa created Special Survivor Games for the special needs children of our school district (Indian Prairie District 204) because her friend Sean (non-verbal, autism) was never able to participate in our family founded backyard Survivor Games due to the extreme heat of the August temperatures (he is not able to normally regulate his body temperature. Marissa wanted to ensure that regardless of disability, Sean and all his friends could enjoy Survivor Games (backyard relay style games) as much as she and her friends did in our backyard, so she created this event using the temperature regulated gym at our local elementary school. The event was well received by the self contained teachers because nothing like this had ever existed for the special needs children that are mainstreamed at our schools. Most events are geared toward the entire school which often times limits the special needs childrens’ participation due to noise levels, field activities, etc. Since founding the event in 2012, Marissa has continued to take on new tasks each year; coordinating all the pre-event details, handling registration, marketing the event, emceeing the event, working directly as a peer buddy, cheering on the kids and thanking the crowd. The event draws about 35 participants, 35 peer buddies, 30 special need teacher volunteers, and over 100 spectators. Marissa took an idea to ensure all children were included in fun events, regardless of ability or disability and brought it to fruition to a district wide event. Special Survivor Games is a fun event where there are no special needs or special circumstances or differences amongst the students; where peer buddies and special needs students work together as one, with no boundaries, borders or differences. I will be forever inspired by Marissa’s commitment and passion for helping others.
Please post your comments to let us know what your experience was if you attended.