By: Gabrielle Martinez
Instead of relaxing or hanging out with friends, junior Karen Ramirez sacrificed her Sunday to volunteer work — and she loved every minute of it.
That’s because Ramirez volunteered, along with other Murrow students, for the Adapted Winter Games on March 26th at Beach Channel H.S.
“I volunteered because I heard people say that the Adapted Winter Games was an amazing experience so I decided to go and check it out for myself and also,” she said. “I wanted to motivate the members of the club to go.”
Ramirez is the vice president of Fuerza Latina, one of two clubs that volunteered for the program. Members of Caliente Club also volunteered. About 60 students volunteered all together for the event.
The Adapted Winter Games is an annual event for the past 27 years and focuses on making a fun and interactive day for children with disabilities and special needs. The booths included activities like a DJ room, volleyball, basketball, relay races and bowling.
“We help to give them an opportunity to engage, we encourage them,” said Assistant Principal of Science and Fuerza Latina advisor, Mr. Carlos Reyes.
The student volunteers enjoyed playing with the children and cheering them on. Many of these students found that it was a rewarding experience.
“Those kids smiled and laughed and had so much fun,” said student Melissa Rodriguez. “You make them feel good and you feel good too.”
Many of the volunteers were able to make personal connections with the kids they were playing with, such as 16-year-old sophomore, Denisse Flores.
“There was a third grader with down syndrome,” she said. “I remember being in the cafeteria with her and we talked about our lives, our parents, where we grew up and what grade and school we went to.”
Students agreed that the only negative aspect of the Adapted Winter Games is waking up early and making the commute to Murrow at 7 am, then boarding the bus to Beach Channel High school.
“Other than waking up early, I don’t have anything negative to say,” Rodriguez said. “I mean they fed us and I definitely didn’t think it would be so fun.”
Like last year, students filled up two busloads and teachers hope to have more students join in next year.
“It was an amazing and unique experience…when I saw the kids happy, it made me forget about the bad things that were going on in the world,” Ramirez said. “This will not be my last time (going to the Adapted Winter Games).”