Hazleton Special Olympics

HAZLE TOWNSHIP -- The Winter Olympics are just getting started in South Korea but some kids in our area had some Olympics of their own in the snow on Friday.

A light snowfall in Hazle Township was a fitting way to kick off the eighth annual Hazleton Area School District Special Olympics at Eagle Rock Resort.

The smiles and laughs were plentiful as good times were had all around. More than 50 occupational therapy students from Misericordia University were on hand to assist the children.

"I think a day like today allows our students to take what they're learning in the classroom and take it to real life situations," said professor Jennifer Dessoye. "I think they spend a lot of time and effort studying, learning about how they should be doing occupational therapy and this is a great way for them to get to actually experience what it's going to be like in a couple of years when they get their degree."

Activities for the kids included snow tubing, snow angels, and sledding. Inside, there was a lot of dancing

"My favorite part is the balloons, this bunny, and eating breakfast," said fourth-grader Christian Moda.

"I'm having fun today!" kindergartener Issaiah Rogel said.

Misericordia students say that a day like this provides invaluable experience.

"I actually had a sister who was multi-handicapped, so it means a lot for me to be out here and seeing the kids that were just like her. And I love being able to see them smiling and having fun. It's a good time," said Lauren Vermeulen.

"It's really important, I think. Some people can take this population and not really give them any credit whatsoever. You think that we're here to help them, but they just do so much more for me," Kristin Kuntzman said.

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