HATTIESBURG, MS. - The Hub City Region Special Olympics is recognized for helping families across the Pine Belt this week.
Director Amber Wadsworth said the program opened 2 years ago and helps families of those with intellectual disabilities stay active.
“Well it’s so fun because we showcase what they can do, we showcase their abilities" said Wadsworth.
"They are able to do so many things, they are able to show us, as far as their physical capabilities.”
In the past families had to travel to the coast to compete in the Special Olympics. Hub-City Region now covers five local counties in the Pine Belt: Forrest, Lamar, Marion, Perry and Walthall.
Wadsworth said, “They are able to show us joy, teach us patience, show us that the sky is the limit for what they are able to do.”
Each athlete competes in different sports during different seasons. Wadsworth said she has seen athletes developmentally grow.
She said, "Their social skills, that has been huge, I had some that were very standoffish, very to the side."
"Now they are socializing more, they are interacting with their peers, their communication skills have developed" she added.
Dean Goodwin, 41, has participated in the Special Olympics for the last two years and enjoys it.
Goodwin said, “I love coming to special Olympics, I love the activities, I love my coaches, I love with hanging out with, them and fellow-shipping with them.”
Athletes, families, and Wadsworth said its more than just giving athletes a chance to compete, the organization is a family.
“Making difference in their lives, half of them call me mom, but, that in itself gives me the most joy that I can ever express" said Wadsworth.
To learn more about Hub City Region Special Olympics you can click here.