Open Hand Club Hosts Carnival

Kelly Pien, News Editor

Project Open Hands held a carnival on October 26 for members of the local Special Olympics Sea Serpent swim team and their families. The event was held on the lower field at Campolindo.

According to the Sea Serpents’ website, the team is “a non profit swim team program providing fitness and swimming instruction to special needs athletes in the San Francisco East Bay.”

Project Open Hands adviser and Learning Skills teacher Michelle Alessandria said the purpose of the carnival was “to enhance awareness of children and people with disabilities and to provide an activity where we have students and parents and the whole community coming together at this event.”

Project Open Hands president Toni Finnane said the carnival “was really successful. It was our first one that we did so it was an experiment to see how it goes. We weren’t sure how things were going to turn out, but it turned out than we had expected.”

According to Alessandria, about 300 people showed up to the event. “Everyone jointly together is making this work,” Alessandria said. “So we had quite a few volunteers, from Campolindo, all the high school students that are working at different activities.”

Planning for the event began at the start of the school year, according to Finnane. “We use usually different sports teams. This time we talked to Mrs. Tague who has a special needs daughter. We’ve been working with her for the past couple years and she suggested we work with the Sea Serpents and connect with them. So we did connect with their coach, and he loved the idea,” Finanne said. “He was awesome to work with and really helped to pull it off ‘cause he wanted to do something like this before and have a picnic that their families could enjoy too.”

The group, which is also responsible for the basketball and baseball tourneys for other Special Olympics teams, chose to hold a carnival for several reasons. “We do a lot of sports events, so we were kind of thinking [of] something that would be different from what we usually do,” Finnane said. “We just thought of it as something that it would give participants a lot of options on (sic) different games they could play, different booths they could go to. And we figured it would be something that kids of all ages and both genders would enjoy.”

“I think it’s a great, great thing. Everybody seems to be having a good time, and I am amazed at all the different things that the athletes can do,” said Barbara Vansickle, a parent of one participant. “Everyone’s having a good time and I think it’s marvelous. I think the group has done a great job putting it together.”