Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
As the nation celebrates Memorial Day this weekend, students at the Vern Riffe School in Portsmouth are celebrating another summer milestone — the end of the school year. The last day for students is Wednesday, but they were kicking things off a few days early Friday with their second annual Developmental Days carnival on the parking lot.
“We’ve setup stuff on our parking lot for our kids to go out and have wheelchair races, we have a dunking booth, we have a few things they can make. We have a lot of fun activities for our whole school and for our adult program next door,” said Rita Arthur, who coaches the Scioto County Special Olympics team at the Vern Riffe School.
She said the Special Olympics gives students an opportunity to break out of their shell and succeed in the community, but not all off them participate. So Developmental Days is a way for the school to bring the games to the everyone.
“My son is really excited,” said Marilyn Wilfong of Portsmouth, whose 15-year-old son Corvin Ruggles attends the school and participates in Special Olympics activities. “Corvin’s development has changed a great deal being at the Vern Riffe School. He’s a lot more active. Even at home he’s a lot more active. He loves to play with the other kids now, which is something he didn’t do. He’s become more social with everybody.”
After enjoying a lunch of Papa John’s pizza, students hit the parking lot to find lots of fun activities.
“There’s wheelchair races where the kids in wheelchairs are going to get to race each other. Then we’re going to put some people that aren’t typically in wheelchairs, in wheelchairs, and they’re going to race against them also to put everybody on the same playing field” said Physical Development Specialist Cindy Coriell, who helped plan the activities. “They’re going to dunk bus drivers in the water tank. We also have a lot of fine-motor activities for them, like the ping pong toss, the duckies; there’s these paper hats that they make and they all love those because they get to use their creativity.”
There was also music and dancing, led by the Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities Transportation Department. The entire parking lot erupted in the Harlam Shake and Gangnam Style dances led by Carl Hairston.
“Our students want the same opportunities that the typical developing child does and we try to offer that any way we can,” Coriell said.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.