CHESTER - A new, youth athletic movement was born back in 1989 during a spontaneous basketball tournament held at an obscure Vermont boys camp. The tournament involved members of NFCCE, the National Fellowship of Child Care Executives, and young campers.
NFCCE is composed of agencies that provide out-of-home care for at-risk children. So the idea-to involve more at-risk boys and girls in athletic events-eventually became the H'Olympics. Twenty-one years later, it's now a growing national movement.
H'Olympic games emphasize sportsmanship and goodwill, and offer children far more than a simple athletic competition. The games allow children with similar backgrounds to share positive experiences, receive recognition for their special talents, socialize, and most of all-have fun.
Since its founding, the H'Olymics has been slowly attracting more agencies each desiring to take part.
Here in Vermont, the movement has several champions.
A few weeks ago, 16 Vermont children with four chaperones traveled to Mahwah, N.J., to represent Kurn Hattin Homes in H'Olympics.
The children competed in track and field, swimming, basketball, volleyball, and softball. There were 10 different schools in the competition, from New Jersey, Texas, Missouri, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. When the games were over, the Vermont youngsters enjoyed a Grey Line dinner cruise departing Manhattan Island, around the Statue of Liberty, and back.
According to Kim Fine of Kurn Hattin Homes, the five-hour-trek south was well worth it.
"We did very well at the games and returned with several medals," she said. "Scarlett Stanhope won the non athletic competition, which this year was in art. Her painting of a frog won the Ken Coleman award which is a flag that former Kurn Hattin students designed and won several years ago. She also received a $100 gift card."
The girls won the gold medal in softball silver in basketball and silver in volleyball