Every Sunday the Bowling Stones, a Malden-based Special Olympics team begin their morning bowling at Town Line Luxury Lanes. They are part of Special Olympics Massachusetts, and are coached by certified Special Olympic mentors.
The Special Olympics mission remains as vital today as it was when the movement was founded in 1968. Special Olympics strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people.
This group of athletes range in age from 16-63, some live at home and some in group homes. What is apparent immediately is how close they are and how much this Sunday bowling event means to them.
They’re happy when anyone gets a strike, and no one gets upset if their ball goes into the gutter or misses the mark.
The coaches, some of whom are parents, know that these athletes benefit from social activities. One coach mentioned that these special Olympians don’t often get to socialize at the malls, nor do what many of their peers take for granted as everyday popular activities.
Therefore the coaches ensure there are plenty of opportunities for inclusive activities for the group. Together, they go on special outings to the circus, to see the GlobeTrotters, and other group activities to be enjoyed. Another example the coach gives, is that when they go out to dinner, the athletes eat and share at their table, while the coaches sit away. Another chance is to socialize.
The Bowling Stones take part in the Winter Special Olympics. This is a big event that everyone looks forward to. It is like a big homecoming where they see old friends. There’s a lot of hugging, hand-slapping and cheering going on.
It’s obvious that the athletes get so much out of this bowling league. It promotes self-confidence and companionship. The individuals are always supportive to each other. And, fortunately, they have a wonderful team of coaches and parents who are determined to enrich their lives. —Karen Lynch & Marcia Manong