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Bates partners with Special Olympics to become SO College

LEWISTON, Maine -- Bates College Director of Athletics Kevin McHugh announced Sunday that Bates has officially entered a partnership with Special Olympics to become a Special Olympics College.  

SO College is a nationwide network of highly engaged and motivated college students working to bring inclusion and acceptance to their college campuses. SO College connects college students and individuals with intellectual disabilities in their surrounding community. Through sports and leadership opportunities, students build friendships, develop leadership skills and help lead Special Olympics' movement for acceptance and respect.  
SO College focuses on three main areas: 

Youth Leadership & Advocacy

SO College insists that young people take leadership roles in promoting SO College in their schools and communities. For students both with and without intellectual disabilities, those are leadership lessons that last a lifetime and youth are the pioneers of an inclusive movement.

Inclusive Sports

This means: 1) Individuals with intellectual disabilities from the college or community are given the opportunity to participate in sports training and competitions. 2) Students with and without intellectual disabilities participate in sports alongside each other –- inclusively.

Whole Campus Involvement

SO College works to ensure that the institution accepts and includes those with intellectual disabilities. By giving all students, faculty and staff opportunities to participate in such a movement, SO College helps achieve that goal.

"At present there is a small group of athletes, coaches and staff who are functioning as the initial organizing core," said McHugh, "but we will look to expand and grow as SO College gets underway and involves the rest of the campus."

Bates' first SO College event will be this Friday, Dec. 6, when the men's and women's tennis teams will provide a clinic for intellectually disabled athletes, and SO College is looking for people interested in helping with the clinic (not the technical instruction parts). The clinic will run from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. on Friday, and there will be a brief clinic for volunteers on Thursday at 6:30pm at the Merrill Gym indoor courts. Those interested in helping, please see Bates head tennis coach Paul Gastonguay on Thursday evening at Merrill.