‘Little Feet’ get together

Published 10:29 pm Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bad weather didn’t stop Suffolk students from supporting each other with cheerful activities on Thursday.

Creekside Elementary School students took part in the third annual Suffolk Little Feet Meet on Thursday. The event was originally planned to be held at King’s Fork High School between Suffolk elementary schools, but the group event was canceled because of the poor weather forecast.

The schools instead held their own activities for students. The Creekside event gathered about 35 students wearing Little Feet Meet T-shirts in support of the special-education students in their community.

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“It gives them a chance to have fun with each other,” Creekside special education teacher Karen Leonard said.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students in the general education classes have been partnering with special-education students since March. The pairs worked together to toss tennis balls into buckets, jump over floor mats, and do half-court sprints in the gymnasium.

“They work together with their partners to complete each of these stations,” Leonard said.

She described the event as a team effort between school organizations, including the girls’ club Girls With Pearls and The Association for boys. Physical education teacher and The Association founder Erik Johnson said his students were excited to support their special-needs classmates.

“A lot of our fourth and fifth graders look forward to this event every year,” Johnson said.

He said the club is meant to teach these boys skills to be productive citizens, and part of that is giving back to the community.

“I think, at their core, they really like to give back and help out,” he said. “They want to see other kids succeed, and that means a lot to us.”

Marcus Walker, an 11-year-old fifth grader in The Association, said their special needs peers could do whatever they want, regardless of their disabilities.

“Just because they’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean there’s anything they can’t do,” Marcus said.

Parents, teachers and classmates cheered the students from the bleachers throughout the morning.

“I think it brings them joy,” said 11-year-old fifth grader Tariq Parker. “This is making a family out of everybody.”

D’Amari Council partnered with Noah Dolberg, an 8-year-old special-education student in the second grade. D’Amari said Noah enjoyed the cheers, tennis ball tosses and sprints.

“He’s nice, and he loves to move around,” 10-year-old D’Amari said.

Activities like this break down the uncertainty and discomfort between general and special-education students, according to assistant principal Robert Brennan.

“The disability becomes less confusing or uncomfortable for the students,” Brennan said.

Wilbert Outlaw Sr. is a kindergarten teacher at Creekside Elementary. His 11-year-old son James is in fourth-grade special education, and he enjoyed his third year of Little Feet Meet activities.

“It’s very positive,” Wilbert said. “It’s positive reinforcement all the way around.”

He and his wife Jamie were cheering for their son from the bleachers.

“There’s a lot of love in this,” Jamie said.