Mary Helen Sprecher 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Especially Educating Moments WHAT IMPRESSES ME MOST about our industry is that no matter how much we think we know, there’s always something new to learn. And when we do, it sticks with us. Case in point: I got a phone call at my desk one day from a woman who wanted some ideas for promoting her cheerleading squad. That in itself isn’t unusual; after all, we’d just finished a big article on competitive cheer. But what she said next that made me sit up straight: “We just haven’t had a lot of success getting kids to try out for Special Olympics cheerleading around here.” I started taking notes like crazy. “You mean...like huggers?” I asked. “People who volunteer to show up and cheer on the participants?” I had it all wrong — she meant individuals with developmental disabilities who could be part of a squad that cheered on their teammates, and who could compete with other squads of Special Olympians. Like everyone, I’m aware of the Special Olympics. I’ve seen participants compete in any number of sports — track, aquatics, you name it — but the idea of a cheerleading squad simply had never occurred to me. What I learned was that it’s a sanctioned sport, but without the high-flying gymnastics. Most important of all, it provides kids with an experience comparable to that of their typically developing peers.Which is, I suppose, what it’s all about for all adapted sports. In this issue, we take a look at what is needed to provide great facilities for athletes with special needs. Hint: It goes a lot deeper than just following ADA rules, and it applies to your event, no matter whether you’re working with traditional competitive athletics or with performance sports (like gymnastics or cheerleading). I think this issue bears out the importance of always being able to learn new things.We’ll look at permitting and working with authorities, effective relations with the media, and ways to attract spectators to your event. We’ll examine tennis facilities and some outstanding basketball arenas, as well as great destinations in the Northwest.And don’t miss the chance to familiarize yourself with some action sports, including BMX and skateboarding. There’s a lot in store with this issue, and I hope you learn as much as I did. Sincerely, Mary Helen Sprecher Managing Editor MARY HELEN SPRECHERhas been a technical writer formore than 20 years with the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA), the national association of designers, builders and suppliers of materials for athletic facilities. She has worked in meeting and convention planning for non-profit associations, and also works as a staff writer for a Baltimore, Maryland newspaper. She is a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management, a professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and has taughtmeeting planning and eventmanagement courses in the continuing studies program at Goucher College, located in Towson, Maryland. Her freelance writing includes coverage of topics including fitness, health, sports medicine and special education.
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