Building Confidence & Self-esteem for Young Athletes
Parent Spotlight: Kathy Horigan Dye
As the sports of spring 2016 sprang into action, so did Special Olympics Massachusetts Young Athletes Program, hosted in our very own Yawkey Sports Training Center in Marlborough, MA. A group of 2-7 year olds came together to learn the basic skills that create the foundation of sports. The purpose of this program is to enable those who do not reach the minimum competition age (of 8 years old) to be introduced to sports. By way of games and activities, the Young Athletes learn to develop motor skills and increase their hand-eye coordination. The program introduces its participants and their families to the Special Olympics world while also encouraging new skills, new friendships, and a whole lot of fun.
Ava is a 6 year old participant in the 2016 Young Athletes program. After her first introduction to Special Olympics, Ava’s mother, Kathy, shared her thoughts on the Young Athletes experience:
“We’ve only been involved [with Special Olympics Massachusetts] through this one program, which we absolutely loved. We’ve known about Special Olympics for years (Ava just turned 6) but had always heard that [athletes] had to be 8 years old to participate. We heard about [Young Athletes] from a friend on Facebook! Gotta love the power of social media. It was thrilling to find out there was a Young Athletes program that Ava could enjoy. And this is a chance for her to blossom and build confidence. We’ve been excited to be part of Special Olympics since Ava was born 6 years ago, so to get the chance to get involved before her 8th birthday is awesome.
“The program was such an eye-opener for me. Her confidence built each week and her self-esteem built as well. She was able to come in with confidence, run around, meet new friends, feel welcome and loved. Just the fact that she got to try things she had never done before also built her confidence. It shows her and me that she can do anything! It was a win-win for us!
“The program made me realize that she is very physically interested in doing sports! As a non-sports family, we had no idea (except that she runs around the yard kicking a soccer ball all the time!) This confirmed we have a little jock on our hands.
“My experience was positive, which is also linked to the fact that my daughters’ experience was so positive as well. Ever since she started Special Olympics, she has been OBSESSED with it! She wakes up every morning and says, “Special Olympics?” Asking if it’s that day! She just can’t get enough of it and when we get there, she bounds out of the car, runs into the gym and starts kicking the ball. She just loved every moment of it.
“There are opportunities for families to bond, become friends, for their kids to make friends outside their own town, etc. For our kids who have so many challenges, friendship and social situations being one of the most prevalent, any opportunity for our kids to make new friends, or more friends, the better.”