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March 31, 2012 (La Mesa) -- Students from Helix Charter High School’s Special Education Department are going for the gold, and students and staff alike hope to raise awareness in the process.

The second annual Helix Charter High School Games of Champions will be held on Tuesday, April 3 from 9:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. at the Benton Hart Stadium football field.

Fifteen to 20 students with severe intellectual and physical disabilities will take the field and participate in activities such as bowling, basketball, soccer goal challenge, agility course, and a long-ball challenge.

The event will also feature an “R-Word” campaign, inspired by a national movement featured on Facebook and Youtube, known as   “Spread the Word to End the Word” www.r-word.org. Attendees will be asked to help to eliminate the demeaning use of the word “retarded”.

“Our goal is to encourage students, staff and community members to have a conversation about the use of the word ‘retarded’ and pledge their support to build awareness and end the use of the ‘r-word’ in our community,” explained Kim Fleming, Special Educator and staff supervisor of the Games. “Most people- teenaged students in particular- don't think of this word as hate speech, but that's exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and friends.”
Helix  senior  Faith  Leaupepe  Tele  spearheaded  this  year’s  event,  and  worked  with students and staff to coordinate the activities, participants, prizes, etc. “I hope this event will make an impact on the school and get everyone involved- from students, to parents and everyone in our community,” said Leaupepe Tele.

Members of many of Helix’s student groups will participate as volunteers assisting with the games. Associated Student Body (ASB) students will participate as spirit leaders during the event, members of the Helix Cheer Squad will be on the field cheering participants on  to  victory,  and  the  Helix  Dance  Team  will  perform  at  the  Closing Ceremonies. “The general education students on campus have been so helpful, friendly and supportive of our program,” said Fleming. “We have been collaborating since the beginning of the school year to create an event that showcases the abilities of our students, promotes inclusion on campus and raises awareness.”
The competitors in The Games of Champions are people ages 13-22 who experience developmental  delays  in  the  moderate  to  severe  range  or  are  affected  by  severe orthopedic impairments. They are enrolled in Specialized Academic Instruction. 
Helix Charter High School is located in La Mesa, California and serves approximately 2,400 students from all over the county, with the majority from La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley. Helix High School was established in 1952 and was granted its charter in 1997, becoming the first comprehensive charter high school in the state. 

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