Special Olympics New York & Crossroads Center for Children Celebrate 100 Young Athletes, Age 12 & Under

Crossroads Partnership Applauded as Best-in-State Model for Inclusion

Rotterdam, NY – Special Olympics New York and Crossroads Center for Children officials hosted a year-end celebration of its Young Athletes Program Wednesday for approximately 100 students up to age 12 with and without disabilities who participated throughout the school year.

Children shared their fitness routines with parents, families and members of the community. Special Olympics New York presented Crossroads with a gift and honored the school as being one of the best in the state for providing inclusive activities between young students with and without disabilities.

Photos and videos from the event can be found here.

“Congratulations to the entire Crossroads community on another successful year, and to each of our young champions in the making,” said Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman. “The Special Olympics Young Athletes program teaches basic sport and motor skills critical to a child’s development and – importantly – sets the stage for a lifetime of including children of all abilities in opportunities to play together and become friends. Nowhere in New York will you find a more comprehensive in-school Young Athletes program or a more dedicated staff than right here at Crossroads.”

“Special Olympics New York has been such a great partnership for us,” said Crossroads Center for Children Executive Director Kelly Young. “Our students are learning new skills that they will be able to continue for years to come. The materials, lessons, and support that we receive from Special Olympics New York has been so helpful to our teachers and our program. We love to bring new ideas into the program and the guidance and encouragement that we get has been tremendous!”

The Special Olympics New York Young Athletes Program provides inclusive play opportunities for children of all abilities, generally ages 2-7. It engages children with and without intellectual disabilities in activities important to mental and physical development, such as running, balance and catching, while also teaching inclusion at a young age and preparing athletes for Special Olympics training and competition when they become eligible at age 8.

Crossroads implements the Special Olympics Young Athlete Program as well as additional resources to further ensure that the activity, frequency, and duration of sessions are appropriate for their students. In order to keep parents updated on their child’s progress, Crossroads also conducts baseline testing and produces a weekly Young Athletes blog for parents. During the pandemic, Crossroads and Special Olympics New York worked together to provide virtual programming for students as well.

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About Crossroads Center for Children

Crossroads Center for Children opened in Glenville, NY in 1998 as a private nonprofit school serving a small group of children diagnosed with autism. Today the school is located in Schenectady and enrolls approximately 120 children from 20 school districts in the surrounding eight counties. Additionally, the school enrolls students with general education needs for the preschool and daycare program. Integration of children with and without special learning needs is shown through research to have advantages for all types of learners and is known as a best practice in preschool settings. Children benefit from building friendships with people who are different from themselves, and this arrangement fosters tolerance and empathy. Both groups learn valuable lessons from critical thinking and social skills instruction, in addition to the quality academic programming. Children that are enrolled in the program for special education services are either diagnosed on the autism spectrum or can simply benefit from a behaviorally based educational program. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the fundamental approach for instruction at Crossroads Center for Children.

About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 68,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with about 250 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports, where students with and without disabilities compete as teammates. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. The organization has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.com, making it one of the most trusted charities in the business nationally. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.

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