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Osakis School Board discusses Special Olympics

The presentation was given by special education teacher Kaylie Waldvogel, who explained how the program worked and encouraged the district to get involved.

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OSAKIS — The Osakis School Board heard a presentation on Special Olympics at its regular meeting on Monday, April 11.

The presentation was given by special education teacher Kaylie Waldvogel, who explained how the program worked and encouraged the district to get involved.

"This is such a great opportunity for so many students," Waldvogel said. "I have been part of Special Olympics my three prior years of teaching, and it's so great to see these kids just flourish and feel like they're part of a team and part of the school even more than they already are."

Special Olympics is open to any student between the ages of 8 and 21 who has an intellectual or physical disability. The number of eligible students with potential interest at Osakis is 14, Waldvogel said.

"I know a lot of schools start only in middle school, and I think that being a K-12 school, we can really expand that and get these kids in the program to start off early, and then have them just go through it and excel," she said.

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The program is also open to unified athletes, which is any student who would like to pair with an athlete, Waldvogel said, and there are opportunities for school-wide engagement with presentations and campaigns like World Kindness Day.

Both practices and competitions take place during the school day, Waldvogel said. The events that Osakis could participate in during 2022-2023 are bowling, basketball skills and track and field.

Expenses for the first year of implementing Special Olympics would be covered by Special Olympics Minnesota. For the second year, half would be covered by Special Olympics Minnesota and half by the school district or through fundraising. For the third year and afterward, they would be covered by the district or fundraising.

Special Olympics Minnesota also covers the cost of teacher substitutes and busing to competitions.

Waldvogel said some fundraising possibilities are selling T-shirts or having a Cool School Polar Plunge.

"That's something that's really cool that the whole school can get involved in," she said.

While Waldvogel would act as head coach, with assistance from Hannah Eberle, there are also opportunities for others to get involved.

"I can send them the information to become a coach, and then they can do that as well," Waldvogel said. "At my previous school we had a couple different parents that were available and willing to do that."

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Superintendent Randy Bergquist said he had volunteered a bit with Special Olympics in the past and spoke highly of the program.

"I'm not saying I did a whole bunch, but it's so rewarding to see these students perform in Special Olympics," he said.

No action was taken on the matter or requested at the meeting.

Travis Gulbrandson covers several beats, including Osakis School Board and Osakis City Council, along with the Brandon-Evansville School Board. His focus will also be on crime and court news.
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