Glenwood Springs’ Special Olympics Mountain Niños team gets youths active |

Glenwood Springs’ Special Olympics Mountain Niños team gets youths active

Jeff CaspersenPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Cammi Menager simply wanted the kids she worked with to have something in common with their peers. That’s why she and Paul Squadrito joined forces to form the Roaring Fork Mountain Niños, a youth-specific Special Olympics team for the Roaring Fork Valley.”One thing I noticed from all the students is that they didn’t have much activity in their lives,” said Menager, formerly a severe-needs teacher for local middle schools. “They were missing out on what it’s like to be part of a team, just the camaraderie of what it’s like to be on a team. We wanted to empower them, give them the opportunity to make new friends, be part of a team.”With a broad sports palette and a team catering solely to their age group, area youngsters 8 to 20 years old now know what it’s like to be part of a team, and they’re loving it. The Roaring Fork Mountain Niños program encompasses everything from skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing to basketball, swimming and bowling.”They can take those skills back to the community in terms of social interaction to their peers, to their schools,” Menager said. “I noticed that was kind of what was missing. They didn’t have anything to talk to their peers about at school. They might be able to strike up a conversation about skiing with peers in their class. That’s something they can look forward to.”The Mountain Niños team has been around since December 2006 under the auspices of Menager, Squadrito and Special Olympics Colorado Western Area Manager Julie Fite.

After crafting a career in education, Menager is now a community living specialist/assistant resident coordinator at Mountain Valley Developmental Services in Glenwood Springs. Squadrito is a landscape architect who has been involved with Special Olympics for nearly 15 years.Volunteer assistance and donations are vital in keeping Special Olympics programs going throughout the state, something Fite and company love to see. “We are lucky to have the feel-good aspect to Special Olympics,” Fite said. “It’s easier to get some funds year-round as opposed to other nonprofit entities. The continued giving is just phenomenal. We come from a great valley. People are generous to many different causes. Everybody should be proud to be living here.”That said, local programs always could use more volunteers. Visit or to find out how.Contact Jeff Caspersen:

Q&A with Special Olympic athletesJohn Woods, speaking through his mom, Lisaattends Bea Underwood Elementary School, ParachuteWhere are you from? Parachute. We moved here from Texas, north of Houston.What’s your favorite sport? Basketball.Why did you join Special Olympics?Just wanted to get him more socially active and around peers and his friends, to try things.What’s your favorite subject in school?Science.What’s your favorite kind of music?The Eagles. What do you want to be when you grow up?A teenager. He’s excited about being a teenager.

Alyssa Richmaneighth-grader, Basalt Middle SchoolHow long have you been involved in Special Olympics?I’ve been doing it since the spring of this year.Where are you from?I live in Old Snowmass.What’s your favorite sport?Swimming. It keeps me fit. What’s your favorite stroke?Probably breaststroke. What’s your favorite winter sport?Skiing.Where’s your favorite place to ski?Snowmass. There are lots of runs.What’s your favorite thing about Special Olympics?I’ve met a lot of new people, made a lot of friends.Why did you decide to join Special Olympics?My mom encouraged me.What’s your favorite movie?”High School Musical.”Who’s your favorite actor or actress?Vanessa Higgins.What do you want to do when you get older?I want to be a writer. I’d like to write romance novels.Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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