Story and photos by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News
When Pioneer High School sophomore Melanie Obua talks to legislators on Wednesday about the benefits of Special Olympics, she’ll be holding a few index cards—just in case.
But Melanie is so gung-ho about Special Olympics, she doesn’t think she’ll need them.
“Special Olympics changed my life,” said Melanie, 16. “It makes me feel happier, and physically fit.”
Melanie will be accompanied by Pioneer ASD teacher Dana Cesarz, who was contacted by the Special Olympics Michigan staff to see if she and a student would represent teachers and athletes on Capitol Hill Day in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 10.
The goal is to help convey the cost-effectiveness of Special Olympics’ programming and secure support from bi-partisan legislators.
“Melanie and I will talk with state legislators about the importance of Special Olympics, and why we need to continue receiving funding in the schools for health training and social skills training,” said Cesarz.
The two will land in Washington today and do some sightseeing. Then tomorrow they will join other Special Olympics athletes from across the country to hold face-to-face meetings with Congressional representatives.
Melanie was chosen because she’s a good leader, helpful to other students, and an advocate for Special Olympics, said Cesarz, who teaches students who are on the autism spectrum.
Melanie has been participating in Special Olympics for the past year and a half, and enjoys playing basketball, softball, hockey, soccer, bowling and bocce ball.
Cesarz said she’ll take lots of pictures of what should be an exciting couple of days.