Miss Magic Valley’s platform is Possibilities for Disabilities. She holds sports camps for people with developmental disabilities in order to help them build confidence, develop their talents, gain a sense of accomplishment, and form relationships with their peers.
Possibilities for Disabilities has had two basketball camps, a soccer camp, and just held their first tennis camp! The way Possibilities camps usually work is the kids and coaches (student athletes that volunteer to help with the camp) are excused from classes from the day, and spend the time learning the basic skills of the sport, as well as playing fun team building and group games through out the day. At the end of the school day, a closing ceremony is held, recognizing each of the participants for the accomplishments they have made that day. The kids return at 6 o’clock that evening, at which time they are split into teams and play a game. Parents, peers and the community come to watch and cheer them on! It is always heartwarming, and a total blast!
"Tennis camp worked a little differently. We decided not to have an evening game, but spent an awesome afternoon learning the basics of tennis and having fun while we were at it! At the beginning of the day, we split into teams and the kids came up with colors, names, mascots and team cheers. My team was the Orange Fire Squirrels, and we were up against the Green Hot Pockets! We had a few games through out the day, such as relay races and creative version of tag, where the teams got to get into their team spirit and play against each other.
My favorite part of my platform is seeing friendships form. When we first started Possibilities, it was completely about giving these kids the opportunity to participate in activities they may not otherwise get the chance to, helping them gain confidence, find something they like to do, give them something to work hard at, etc. What we didn’t expect was how the culture of the high school would be transformed.
One of the challenges these kids face is that their having a disability can become their identity. No one wants to, or should be, defined by one aspect of themselves. Every single one of them has passions; hobbies; a favorite color, movie, or animal; a unique sense of humor; goals, dreams, etc. Unfortunately, more often than not, the only thing their peers may see or know about them is their disability. On top of that, their peers may be uncomfortable with the obvious difference that exists between them, and not know how to break the ice between them to learn about what they have in common.
When Possibilities started, we realized it created a fun and inclusive environment that brought the students with disabilities together with their peers. We all got to see their personalities emerge and get to know them for who they truly are. Rather than being separated and distant from other students, the kids with disabilities are now more integrated socially in the school and the community, and that makes all the work that goes into my platform so, so worth it!”