Students Participate in Hazleton’s Winter Games

HAZLE TOWNSHIP — Hazleton Area School District students put their own twist on the Olympics.

They’re celebrating Hazleton’s 5th annual winter games in Luzerne County.

“Especially this year with the Olympics being in Sochi, we got to tie in things to their curriculum for their countries and things like that and get them to really see what it’s like to be in the Olympics,” said Jennifer Dessoye, the event organizer.

The stars of these games are students with special needs.

The event is a group effort between the school district, Misercordia University and Eagle Rock Resort.

“It’s hard to get kids in snow tubes and up the hills with wheelchairs, so it’s great the Hazleton area provides a staff for us, the therapist are here, and that Eagle Rock has a facility that we can make this happen for the students,” said Dessoye.

Even though rain hindered the outdoor events, students said they still had a blast.

A student, Lakiesha Handley, said “While I was sliding down the first time, I almost peed my pants, almost!”

Just like the games in Sochi, the Hazleton Olympics featured a parade of nations, but this time it was a parade of Disney characters.

Occupational therapy students helped the kids complete events and cheered them on too.

“I’ve never experienced such a big event with all different disabilities and abilities with kids. It’s really just a great learning experience,” said Alyssa Auer, a Misercordia University Student

For the college students, it’s a glimpse into their future.

“It gives them the real reason that you’re going to be an occupational therapist at the end of the five year program,” said Dessoye.

In the end, each student went home with their very own gold medal.

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