The grand release of red and gold balloons across the blue morning sky signaled the start of the first annual Rome City Schools Paws in Motion event on Thursday May 19.
Below that red and gold release, on the green fields of Barron Stadium, gathered Special Education students from across the RCS system. Those students gathered for a very special day, especially designed for them.
“Welcome to the first annual Paws in Motion event,” SPED Director Kriszti Kilpatrick told the crowd. “This is an adaptive field day experience for our exceptional students.”
Scattered along the track and across the field were a variety of stations, each with a unique activity for the students to experience. Each station was complete with student leaders from Rome Middle and Rome High School to assist, engage and enjoy the games with the students.
Before the games were called to officially begin, the field day festivities opened with the Presentation of Colors by members of the Rome High School Junior ROTC, the singing of the National Anthem by Chorus Director, LeAnna Iddings, followed by the opening prayer.
With at least a dozen stations, there was an experience to suit each and every student. There was a tent for dancing, a goal set up to practice soccer kicks, the yellow Rome City Fire Department fire engine to explore, and a station where kids enjoyed the iconic parachute game, among many others.
Parents were invited as well and many joined their children on the field.
SPED Parent Mentor, Caroline Threadgill, said that there was a lot of positive involvement from parents.
“We have a lot of parents that showed up here today,” she affirmed. “They were really excited, most of them got here early,” she smiled.
There were also stations that stimulated the senses like the bubble tent where students could see the soft flight and feel the light mist of clusters of bubbles in the air and on their skin. The Car Wash station allowed for fun water play as the kids made their way through the streams of falling water or splashed in the colorful kiddie pools.
During the planning process, Kilpatrick said that the activities and events were chosen to provide a wide range of experiences that would offer something to each child.
“We thought specifically about our students and what their needs are and the things that they get enjoyment out of and can easily access,” she explained.
The students also had the opportunity to pet baby goats, rabbits, a calf, a mini horse and a mini donkey at the petting zoo provided by The Cook Farm.
Cool ice pops and fluffy cotton candy were available at the concessions tent.
Kilpatrick said that an event like Paws in Motion has been the dream since her first day on the job as SPED director.
“We began planning this event in September of 2019 with the hope of having it in May of 2020,” she explained. “We all know what happened.”
Kilpatrick expressed gratitude for all the Special Educators and departments within the RCS system that offered their time, energy and expertise to help make Paws in Motion happen; from technology to nutrition to maintenance. Superintendent Louis Byars and Associate Superintendent Dr. Dawn Williams were present to offer their support and their smiles out on the field as well.
Kilpatrick also gave a special thanks to Atrium Health Floyd, the Rome Police Department and the Rome City Fire Department.
“We’re so happy to finally be out here with our kids to enjoy this day,” she smiled, “and we are grateful for the community support that you can clearly see around the stadium.”
It was truly a beautiful day on the field as the sun shone down on the ecstatic faces of some absolutely exceptional kiddos.