People Helping People: Agency getting ready to "Go for Gold"

"Just" People, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit agency that provides a wide variety of support services for adults with developmental disabilities, mental illness and head injuries. The agency is getting ready to participate in this years Special Olympics.

The Georgia Special Olympics Spring and Summer State Games will be held on May 30-June 1 at Emory University. Of the 225 members, over 100 of "Just" People consumers are involved in the health and fitness program offered at "Just" People, including weekly exercise classes, nutrition classes and participation in the Sports Program.

We are really excited this year about the program since we have partnered with the YMCA to utilize it pool and volleyball courts for practices and Roswell Parks and Recreation to practice soccer. Our tennis team is getting coaching from the special pops program at the Racket Club of the South in Norcross and the gymnastics team and ping pong teams have weekly practices at the day program recreation room and the track and field team is running along the river at Azalea Road to prepare for its event.

Like most people, this population grew up wanting to be on the school baseball, basketball or football teams but their limitations didn't allow it. They all wanted to shine like everyone else; win ribbons and trophies to show mom and dad, wanted to wear a uniform, be on a team, hear people cheering for them, high-five each other, feel pride and be among friends that accept them and look up to them. Krista Dowling, coordinator for the "Just" People Sports Program said that since adding the health and fitness program to "Just" People in 2001 the staff has seen an overall change in attitude, behaviors and confidence in all of their consumers.

Hard work is paying off for four of the athletes from the program. "Just" People has been invited to take four tennis players to the Pan American Tennis Tournament in Sao Paolo Brazil. This is part of the Tennis Development Project, which Special Olympics Latin America launched in 2006 with COSAT and COTEEC and is known by "Tennis for All."

The tournament will be July 1-7 and will host over 150 athletes. Our four athletes will be a part of Team USA and will compete against teams from over 25 countries. Although all expenses are paid for this week long event, the airfare to get there and back is not. We need to raise about $8000.00 to send our athletes.

If you are interested in making a donation to "Just" People to help these four athletes go to Brazil, checks can be sent to: P.O. Box 930037, Norcross, Georgia 30003-0097 attention Sports Program.

If you are interested in being a part of the "Just" People Sports Program by sponsorship, donations or volunteering please contact Nikki Davis at 770-441-1188. Or mail contributions to "Just" People Sports Program at P. O. Box 930037, Norcross, Georgia 30003-0037.

"Just" People provides services to consumers that live in Gwinnett, Dekalb, Fulton, Cobb and Hall County. The services consist of day supports, supported employment, sports program, independent living supports and a weekend social program. If you would like information on any of these or all programs contact the Norcross Administration Office at 770-441-1188.