Mini-O athletes compete at Rotary Bowl

NANAIMO – Mini-O athletes from seven Nanaimo high schools compete at Rotary Bowl.

Dustin Cao raises his arms in excitement as he’s pushed by Rosemary Carter during the 100-metre wheelchair race at the Mini-O track and field event at the Rotary Bowl Tuesday. Cao

Dustin Cao raises his arms in excitement as he’s pushed by Rosemary Carter during the 100-metre wheelchair race at the Mini-O track and field event at the Rotary Bowl Tuesday. Cao

The seventh annual Mini-O was a day of fun, laughter and serious competition for Nanaimo high school athletes.

The event, held Tuesday at the Rotary Bowl, attracted about 60 participants from seven schools.

Kym Sywak, co-ordinator of the event, started the Mini-O seven years ago.

Sywak was inspired after attending a similar event in Victoria. She noticed Nanaimo schools weren’t in attendance and decided to create an event here for students with special needs to compete in track and field events.

“It’s a really fun day and kids enjoy coming and participating,” she said. “It gives them reassurance that they can do it.”

Shannon Busby, a skills for life teacher at Dover Bay Secondary School, said the students she accompanies train hard. They are always cheering each other on but are very competitive. She said the event helps promote physical fitness.

“The event absolutely helps kids’ self confidence, self esteem and builds a sense of community,” she said. “It’s an excellent event.”

Mini-O is hosted by the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation.

The foundation has been involved six of the seven years and works to raise money to host the event. The two main sponsors for this year were Coastal Community Credit Union Insurance and HSBC Bank of Canada.

Erin van Steen, executive director of the foundation, said it’s about having fun and seeing the smiles on participant’s faces.

“It’s such an amazing event for these kids to come out and participate in this so community members love it,” she said.

For more information or to learn about donating for next year’s Mini-O, please go to www.nlsf.ca.

reporter3@nanaimobulletin.com