HELENA — Tuesdays on the practice fields at Carroll College you’ll find the high school Special Olympics team the TriCounty Tornadoes practicing track and field as well as bocce ball.
The team offers basketball in the fall, bowling in the winter, and track and field and bocce ball in the spring. Program coordinator Novelene Martin has seen first-hand how these athletic opportunities have allowed these high school students to develop.
“It's been really just fun to see how they've all you know, they all have their such unique strengths. and so we really try to make sure we play on those strengths and we support those strengths, and we encourage them just to try everything. And no matter what they're winners because they're trying, and they're working really hard at it. And so I've just seen them mature in terms of cheering for each other, the camaraderie and actually getting to know each other and just having some social opportunities,” she said.
Martin says one of the biggest struggles for the team is finding unified partners. Unified partners are high school aged students without disabilities who volunteer to be on the team.
“It’s really important. And, you know, the more kids we can get joining, the better,” she said.
These volunteers are welcome from all over the Tri-County area.