Athletes from Wyomissing Area High School are learning a special lesson in teamwork.
Students from the Northwestern Human Services Autism School in Reading took their marks on the track field at Flannery Field in Wyomissing on Monday. Their coaches consisted of members of the track and field team from Wyomissing Area High School.
Student athletes shared their passion with autistic students who are preparing to take part in the Special Olympics at Kutztown University in three weeks, said Corlene Ocker, NHS director.
"We really don't have a track at our building, so they practice inside," said Ocker. "So, it's nice to have them outside with real athletes, athletes that care about our kids."
"I thought this would also be a great opportunity to get our kids involved, introduce them to some special needs kids," said Corbin Stoltzfus, Wyomissing athletic director.
Stoltzfus said this is the first year his students have teamed up with NHS. Monday just so happened to be World Autism Awareness Day, too.
Wyomissing students said when they were told they were going to help coach 40 special needs athletes, they jumped at the idea.
"I'm really looking forward to just showing them the basics and showing them that it's a very competitive sport, but you can have a lot of fun too at the same time," said track and field athlete Clinton Arriola.
"Track is all about having fun and enjoying the exercise as well as interaction among everyone," said track and field athlete June Chiango.
From the 100 meter dash to broad jumps, relay and shot put, Special Olympics students were ready to "go the distance" with their training. Stoltzfus said his student athletes were willing to do the same.
"They came in on their day off to help out with these students so I'm proud," said Stoltzfus.
Track and field athlete Juliet Bonino said NHS students weren't the only ones learning something new from this experience.
"It really puts into perspective how blessed we are to have the opportunity to use our bodies the way we do and really perform and compete," said Bonino.