Hosted March 3-5 in Wenatchee, WA, the state Special Olympics Winter Games provided a unique backdrop for a learning project for five high school students from the SkillSource Learning Center. This “Project-based Learning Group” promoted the inclusion of people of all abilities through activities that supported the games.

Leading up to the event weekend, students studied mental and physical disabilities and then designed two fun activities for the athletes to enjoy during “Olympic Town” — a time of food, activities, and celebration held after the athletic competitions.

Sarai Roldan, Axle Strampher, Jamie Patterson, Sage Griffith, and Alexander (Alex) Lewis came up with a fishing activity where students could “fish” for small prizes using a homemade fishing pole, and another activity in which students could decorate individualized crowns to celebrate their participation in the games.  

“The whole experience involved stepping out of my comfort zone. It was great being part of a good cause; seeing how happy the athletes were was heartwarming,” Axle Strampher said. The SkillSource students also volunteered at events for athletes leading up to the Special Olympics and served as ushers and seated the athletes at the Special Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Through the learning project, students gained confidence, skills in customer service, and “soft skills” needed in many career fields such as empathy, communication, and group collaboration skills — preparing them for future success.

To learn more about the Special Olympics, visit