The following is an interview with Eli Johnson, 5, from Skidmore, and his parents, Roger and Kathy. The Young Athletes Program is designed to reach out to children with intellectual disabilities ages 3 to 7, and to welcome them and their families to the Special Olympics movement.
Interview with Eli
What’s your favorite sport/play activity? Why?
I like t-ball , baseball and basketball because my older brothers play. I like catching the ball and playing with my friends.
Do you have a favorite sports hero? Who?
Yes, I like Billy Butler. He plays for the Kansas City Royals.
Do you have a favorite sports team? Which one?
Yes, I like the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Kansas City Royals.
What’s your favorite toy to play with? Why?
My favorite toys are tractors, animals, bullriding, Playmobil and hot wheels. I just like them because they are fun. I can pretend with them.
Interview with Roger and Kathy
How long has your son been involved in Special Olympics’ Young Athletes program?
What is your child’s favorite sport/activity? Why?
Eli enjoys t-ball, basketball, track and field Little Feet Meet. He enjoys competing like his older brothers and being part of a team. Eli does not see any limitations when he participates.
How did your child / family become involved with Special Olympics?
Three years ago they started a Young Athletes Program in the county where we live. Eli started attending the four week sessions where he plays games and meets other children with disabilities. Then as a young athlete he was invited to the Little Feet Meet track and field day where each young athlete participates in the open ceremonies and three events: running, standing long jump and throwing a tennis ball. Eli loves going and he looks forward to participating again this coming spring.
What has your son gained from his participation in Special Olympics?
Eli is not as shy. He tries different activities. Eli is able to compete like other kids and he feels important because of it. It helps him to not see barriers.
Describe your proudest moment regarding your child’s participation in Special Olympics?
Our proudest moments are seeing how excited Eli is when competing and trying new things. We love Eli’s smile and pure joy as he runs down the track. We are excited to see how proud Eli is when he participates in the track and field Little Feet Meet opening ceremonies while the crowd is cheering. Eli has developed a feeling of self worth by participating in Young Athletes Special Olympics. We have also enjoyed seeing how supportive Eli’s older brothers are when watching him participate. Eli is determined to do everything on this own.