Moving and learning

Albert J. Countryman Jr./The Sun
With a great shooter’s touch 7-year-old J.P. Farrell makes a bucket during the Special Olympics Young Athletes program. Looking on are teen librarian Crysta Miller (left to right); coach Becky Visalli; volunteer Jeriah Griswold; and J.P.’s father, John Farrell.

Library offers monthly Special Olympics athletic program

There was a flurry of activity in Mullica Hill Library meeting rooms A and B on Saturday morning, July 8.

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More than a dozen young children eagerly played basketball, jumped over small hurdles and glided across the floor on small boogie boards with wheels while participating in the Special Olympics Young Athletes program.

“The youngsters learn motor skills, balance and dribbling skills,” said volunteer Jeriah Griswold, adding that they are taught the basics of participating in the Special Olympics.

“I love teaching and helping the special needs population,” said Griswold, who earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from the University of North Carolina in 2007. “It’s my passion and it is very rewarding.”

Griswold worked as a personal health and exercise trainer and is now employed at a medical equipment company.

The library’s free, inclusive sports program for kids is held once a month on a Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m., and is open to children ages 2 to 7.

“We let kids try different kinds of sports,” noted teen librarian Crysta Miller, who runs the program with help from Griswold and Becky Visalli, a personal coach for the children. “It improves their motor and listening skills and teaches them the value of teamwork.”

“Besides giving the youngsters a skill set, it teaches them to follow directions,” explained Miller, a graduate of Washington Township High School who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Stockton University. She is currently studying for her masters in library and information sciences.

“I love working at Mullica Hill library so much,” she said, adding that the staff there is a great help with the teen programs she oversees.

As for making the Special Olympics someday, Miller likes the chances of 7-year-old J.P. Farrell, whose favorite sport is basketball. While J.P. practiced his shooting, he got encouragement from his father, John Farrell.

“He loves sports and this program is an outlet for all his energy,” said John. “Plus it teaches him many skills.”

Youngsters who want to participate in the Special Olympics Young Athletes program must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and wear athletic shoes. To register, go to and click on children’s events at the Mullica Hill library.

Also on the website is information on summer programs for teenagers and adults at other branches of the county library system in Glassboro; Greenwich; Logan; and Swedesboro, as well as Newfield, an independent association library.

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