Washington, DC—On Tuesday, May 22, the eight students of TLC—The Treatment and Learning Centers’ Katherine Thomas School that comprised the Maryland Special Olympics ALPS University / Gallup Seminar Series Class of 2011-2012 were honored at a graduation ceremony and reception hosted by partner Gallup Organization at their corporate headquarters. KTS is a special education school for students with moderate to severe language and learning disabilities and/or high-functioning autism, preschool through 12th grade.
The ceremony marked the culmination of a year of skill-building and strength discovery to develop leadership skills for the following talented KTS students: Cameron Arndt, Westin Beveridge, Charles Boone, Max DeMulder, Sabrina Giraudo, Elise Larson, Katy Lundquist and Brandi Severance.
Said Brandi, “The Athlete Leadership Program has helped me to think about myself as a leader.” Added Westin: “I know that being dependable, confident and competitive will help me in life.” Elise noted that: “My strengths have helped me become very successful at the Katherine Thomas School despite my learning disabilities.”
Pam Yerg, Area Director of Special Olympics MD-Montgomery, created ALPS in partnership with the Gallup Organization as a Special Olympics Athlete Leadership pilot program in 2000 that was “re-tooled” in 2009 for high school students in partnership with KTS. A total of 100 athletes have graduated in the 11 years of the program, including 46 KTS students.
Steve Crabtree, program coordinator and Gallup research analyst, notes that everyone benefits from a tremendous amount of synergy: “It’s all about inclusiveness and empowerment, the notion that everybody has strengths and can benefit from the chance to understand them better. The incredible potential of each group of students makes the program fun and exciting for us year after year.”
Adds Gallup mentor Katie Bass: “Having the opportunity to work with ALPS has been one of the most rewarding experiences. Working with my mentee, I was able to watch her grow and develop the confidence needed to become a leader. It is such a great program to be involved in.”
The year-long seminar based program provides one-on-one mentoring within the corporate community. Students learn about and explore their personal strengths, practice speech-writing and speaking skills, and build confidence in themselves and their ability to present themselves in a professional way through a full spectrum of leadership opportunities on and off the field of sport. The program provides training for the skills necessary to help athletes become confident speakers and have a comfort level with the protocols and mores of the business world and society at large.
Selection to the program is competitive and based upon the student athlete’s level of commitment, desire to pursue leadership training and leadership roles, and the level of support by family to provide consistency in attendance and follow-through with assignments.