Camp Shrivers attendees receive a special surprise from Seahawks
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The gym at Special Olympics Alaska in Anchorage erupted in applause and screams from Camp Shriver attendees on Wednesday afternoon as they were surprised with the appearance of pro football player K.J. Wright and the Seattle Seahawks mascot “Blitz.”
“Pretty excited,” camper Jordan Sticka said. “Pretty cool.”
The Seahawks have had a long-running relationship with Special Olympics Alaska and Camp Shriver. It has become a yearly tradition for members of the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks community to pop in each summer and say hello. This year, they surprised campers with free shoes.
But it’s not the footballers that keep Sticka from returning each year. The three-time camper said it’s the community that surrounds her.
“It’s so much fun,” Sticka said. “There’s lots of activities to do, and meet new people, see old friends.”
Sticka is just one of roughly 60 campers, ranging in age from 13 to 18. Camp Shriver specializes in bringing teens together of all intellectual abilities, honing in on the concept of inclusivity.
“Meeting new friends,” Sticka said. “It’s just a happy place where I feel comfortable and confident.”
Everyone at the camp unites over a shared love for sports and introduces youth to a strong idea of inclusivity.
“This is really an opportunity for youngsters to learn about each other’s world, and to really build lifelong friendships and lifelong skills,” Sue Perles, CEO for Special Olympics Alaska, said. “... Everyone is included in every step of the camp. Campers are involved in decision making.”
Campers converge from all over the state, representing a total of 22 schools. Perles said the lessons that campers learn at the site will teach them valuable life skills they can bring back to their own schools once classes return.
“Having programs and teams and friendships that include all kinds of people” Perles said.
In addition to being the first building block to campers crafting lifelong skills, Perles said the ideas of inclusivity that they learn now will translate later in the work field, promoting a more inclusive tomorrow, by teaching youth those skillsets today.
“(It is to) really make this a way of living for the rest of their life,” Perles said.
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