HomeCherry Hill NewsShining STARs: Students with disabilities take part in games dubbed local Special...

Shining STARs: Students with disabilities take part in games dubbed local Special Olympics

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the STAR Games at Cherry Hill West.

Earlier this month, more than 300 students with special needs participated in the 10th annual STAR (Specially Talented Athletes Recognized) games earlier this month at Cherry Hill West. 

According to coordinator Kristin Bradford, the STAR games are the district’s version of the Special Olympics, designed to give students with physical and intellectual disabilities from K through 12 the opportunity to compete in events like hurdles and the 40-yard dash.

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The games were started by former West physical education teacher Hamisi Tarrant, principal at Haddonfield Middle School. They have continued to grow in the past 10 years, first with a few students at West, then as a district-wide event for all grade levels in Cherry Hill and Haddonfield schools. 

“Last year, I actually received some thank-you notes from students who participated in the events, and one thing they said is their favorite thing is running through the red ribbon (at the end of the race) … and that thrill and joy that they had running through the ribbon,” Bradford said. 

“ … The kids just really enjoy … having that sense of accomplishment.”

There were red ribbons at the end of the 40-yard dash and this year, there were also ribbons added to the end of hurdles and the baton relay race. The event  kicked off at 9 a.m. and featured more than 300 student athletes and 140 student volunteers who helped man the stations and guide athletes.

Throughout the day, students took part in track and field events, yoga, dancing and karate, soccer and other games and activities. Philadelphia Eagles’ mascot  Swoop and the Phillies Phanatic made appearances, along with school mascots.

It’s amazing how many teachers come together and are willing to volunteer their time on a volunteer basis,” Bradford noted. “No one is paid to be here; it really is our wonderful staff in the building and in the district that dedicate their time to make this happen.”

Each year’s STAR Games take a year to plan and cost about $10,000, paid for with grants and donations. This year’s version featured a 10th-anniversary T-shirt in different colors that listed the names of schools who participated in the games over the past 10 years.

“Seeing them here at the event that they love so much is just phenomenal,”  Bradford said.

For pictures from the STAR Games and information, follow chstargames on Instagram.

If anyone is interested in sponsoring the STAR Games, email kbradford@chclc.org.


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