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Embracing the Spirit of the Special Olympics World Games

Students from Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center (WCLC) send messages of inspiration to 2015 Special Olympics World Games athletes.

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As a student at the Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center (WCLC) summer program, ten-year-old Emauri is spending his summer break learning about diversity.  To emphasize the significance of fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people, Emauri and about 100 students from the WCLC will make their way to the Los Angeles Convention Center and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on July 27, where they will cheer on the Special Olympics World Games gymnastics and handball athletes directly from the stands.

“I have never been to an actual Olympics game, so I am really excited to see real athletes up close,” he said recently.

To help them prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime field trip, the students recently spent a warm, sunny afternoon at WCLC learning about the World Games coming to Los Angeles, embracing diversity, and what it feels like to be a Special Olympics athlete.

This lesson inspired dozens of students, ranging from grades K – 12, to encourage the athletes.  “I think they are brave for competing, and I want to show them how much I care,” added Emauri about the athletes.

To commemorate this lesson, a group photo and the students’ best wishes and photographs were captured on posters that will be on display for athletes and fans to enjoy at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion during the World Games.  (See below for a gallery of the students’ greetings and photos.)

“We are proud to welcome the 2015 Special Olympics World Games to Los Angeles, and we salute them for their incredible work empowering those with intellectual disabilities,” said Joanne Robinson, executive director, Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center. “We all are so excited about the opportunity to cheer on the athletes in person.”

“The messages of diversity and acceptance truly resonate with our students,” added Mischelle Thomas, WCLC outreach facilitator. “They really put their hearts into these inspiring phrases, and we hope the athletes will enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed creating them.”

Located in South Los Angeles, the WCLC is a nonprofit Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit program that provides a wide range of culturally relevant mental health, educational, and youth outreach services. These include parent advocacy programming for families who have children with disabilities and need assistance navigating the special education system. The Center’s services are aimed at South Los Angeles residents from low-income, underserved communities and participants need not be Kaiser Permanente health plan members to take advantage of the programs.

To learn more about the WCLC, go to:

http://community.kp.org/be-inspired/story/watts-area-students-are-recognized-for-community-leadership

http://community.kp.org/be-informed/program/watts-counseling-and-learning-center

For a complete look at all the posters and the students' messages to the Special Olympics World Games athletes, go here: http://share.kaiserpermanente.org/article/embracing-the-spirit-of-the-special-olympics-world-games