Co-Lin hosts learning program for Special Olympians
Published 12:05 am Thursday, July 16, 2015
NATCHEZ — A different kind of school was in session Wednesday and continues today at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
This year was Co-Lin’s second time inviting members of the Area 7 Special Olympics team to Summer College. The free program is geared toward individuals ages 19 and up with intellectual disabilities.
The theme of the event was healthy living.
Email newsletter signup
This year, 15 participants were taken to several classes during the morning, such as fundamentals of agriculture, introduction to recycling, science lab, culinary arts and art.
“It’s life skills in a college atmosphere,” said Drew Thompson, assistant dean at Co-Lin’s Natchez campus.
Thompson said the program began when his father, Eddie Thompson, told him he knew Chandler Warren, 29, of Natchez, wanted to go to college.
Warren participates in swimming in the Special Olympics.
Thompson reached out to the Area 7 Special Olympics director, Tommie Jones, to get more participants and the rest is history.
Warren has been to both years of the program. He liked the opportunity to hang out with his friends, as did Maggie Burns, 23, who participates in Bocce Ball and swimming in the Olympics.
“I’ve just been having fun with my friends,” Burns said.
On Wednesday, Warren said he was looking forward to the science project. Participants were taught how to make a solar cooker out of tinfoil, plastic wrap, paper and pizza boxes.
Afterward, they were given a list of recipes they could make with the cookers, including s’mores and nachos.
Thompson said the pizza boxes, like many of the materials, were donated.
“This is purely run out of the kindness of the community,” Thompson said.
Even the bottle caps for the eco-art project were donated, with members of the Co-Lin community saving them as time went by. Thompson said his office was filled with different recyclable materials collected for the program.
Other classes were more lecture-based. In introduction to recycling, students were given a chance to hear about recycling in Natchez from Interim Natchez City Planner Riccardo Giani.
Burns’ hand shot up continuously during the course of the lecture.
“I love recycling and asking questions about stuff,” Burns said.
Nancy McFarland, director of public information for the campus, said the school wants to incorporate this into their summer programs.
Thompson hopes they can grow the summer college program in the future.
“Hopefully it’s still in its infancy so it can grow larger,” Thompson said.