March 25, 2019 6:40 pm
Updated: March 25, 2019 6:56 pm

Ajax students commemorate Special Olympics Day

WATCH: Fifty communities from across the province are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of Special Olympics Ontario.

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March 25 marked Special Olympics Day.

Fifty communities from across the province, including Durham Region, are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of Special Olympics Ontario.

Monday also marked the start of the 50-day countdown to the Invitational Youth Games in Toronto where some Ajax students will be competing.

For Justin Williams and Shabaana Mohamed, floor hockey has been a way to open up and it wouldn’t have been possible without Special Olympics and their school programs.

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“I was a self-conscious guy. I didn’t like to do a lot of things and ever since I joined Special Olympics it kind of opened me up to meet people and talk more,” said Williams, a J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate student.

“Playing Special Olympics is fun, it’s like a home to me. I help athletes become better and I demonstrate it by myself,” said Mohamed, also a J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate student.

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What sport and Special Olympics have done for the J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate students hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“It gets me quite emotional because it means that we have accomplished something that you can’t teach in a classroom. To allow students to gain the confidence to be participating outside of their social box, the stigma of their disabilities has put them in, is just so incredible,” said Christine Peralta, a J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate teacher and coach.

Both Williams and Mohamed consider themselves to be leaders, something they couldn’t have imagined only four years ago. They have qualified for the Invitational Youth Games in May.

Monday, Williams and Mohamed spoke at a flag raising ceremony at Durham Regional Police Headquarters, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics movement.

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Special Olympics has been a cause Durham Regional Police and services around the province have been supporting for years, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s an outstanding opportunity for students with intellectual disabilities to participate in sport and we’re really happy and proud to be able to support these athletes on their quest to win gold,” said police chief Paul Martin.

Williams and Mohamed aren’t the only ones from their Ajax High School competing in the games, they are two of about 50 who will be representing J. Clarke Richardson at the Invitational Youth Games, which get underway May 14 in Toronto.

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