WEST ORANGE, NJ —Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) athletes this week began competing in the culminating event of the season, the annual Winter Games—a multi-day, multi-sport competition that gives nearly 800 SONJ athletes an opportunity to compete. On Sunday, Codey Arena in West Orange will host the figure skating competition.
Floor hockey and volleyball were contested first on Saturday and Sunday at Stockton University and Galloway Township Middle school, respectively.
Speed skating’s final competition will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at Skylands Ice Arena in Stockholm and the snow sports (alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing) will be contested Feb. 6 and 7 at Mountain Creek in Vernon.
“These athletes have worked hard, training in their respective sports, and are excited to face their competitors,” said Heather Andersen, President and CEO of SONJ. “In the winter we offer both individual and team opportunities, indoors, on-ice, and on-snow, all over the state. Our athletes have a lot of sports to choose from, giving them a variety of opportunities to showcase their skills.”
In addition to participating in the competition, many athletes stay overnight for these events, giving them the opportunity to develop real-world independent living and social skills. Young Athletes, a “sports play” program for children ages 2-7 with intellectual disabilities, offered early sports training in floor hockey to registered participants on Saturday in addition to free health screenings for all SONJ athletes and the SONJ Snowflake Shuffle 3K fundraising event.
As part of this celebration of winter sports, local students with and without intellectual disabilities will have an opportunity to participate in sports training sessions at SONJ Unified Game Days at Mountain Creek on Feb. 6 and 7.
The floor-hockey tournament and the Snowflake Shuffle 3K are supported by Atlantic City Electric, and the Opening Ceremony at Mountain Creek, held in the evening Feb. 6, is supported by Delta Dental of New Jersey.
After each event, photos will be available at www.flickr.com/SONewJersey.