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Special Olympics Iowa Hosts ‘Play Day’ to Encourage Kids to Stay Active

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Over 200 young athletes gathered for the 2018 Play Day hosted by Special Olympics Iowa on Tuesday.

Children between ages two and seven participated in the event to learn more about Special Olympics and see if they would like to join the organization when they turn eight years old. Marketing and Communications Manager Stephanie Kocer said the goal of the event is to give parents, teachers, and children an idea of what Special Olympics has to offer.

“We want to show parents that we are very focused on getting their kids active, teaching them healthy things, teaching them how to play certain sports, and giving them those opportunities,” Kocer said.

The activities are modeled after special Olympic sports like basketball, baseball, balance beam, batting, and more. Kocer said the event is unified, meaning children with and without disabilities will be participating.

“It’s really fun to watch classmates include each other and want to make sure that their classmate with a disability is able to do the activity and is able to have fun just like them. You can just tell by the smiles on everyone’s faces they are having a great time,” Kocer said.

Around 80 volunteers from the community helped run Play Day, which took place beginning at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Valley Community Center in West Des Moines. The day is sponsored by Variety - the Children's Charity.