A group of BYU students are getting the chance to do something special this fall semester.
BYU’s Y-Serve organization offers students the opportunity to volunteer with BYU’s Special Olympics team.
The volunteers are not just teaching flag football to individuals with mental impairments — they are taking it a step further. The student volunteers are running drills, playing games and scrimmaging with the athletes as they create strong bonds with the Special Olympics team.
The team practices each week to prepare for the state tournament hosted by Special Olympics Utah.
Program director Casey Strong said the friendships made through the program are one of the best perks of volunteering.
“I think it helps you get out of your bubble and meet people that you otherwise wouldn’t, and be able to help and have fun with people you wouldn’t always be with and they’re the best kind of people around,” Strong said.
Special Olympics participant Chetty Pino said she enjoys learning from the BYU students at practice each week.
“It’s fun to have them help me learn what I am doing, so I can learn more skills and stuff,” Pino said.
Special Olympics volunteer Kayla Haskett said the opportunity to meet new people and build strong relationships is an important aspect of the program.
“I think it’s very important because it’s good to include everyone from all walks of life and different aspects of their life and it’s just super fun to get to know people and become closer to people,” Haskett said.
BYU’s Special Olympics team will participate in the flag football tournament on Nov. 11, 2023.