Trevor Lucken lives in his own apartment. He has a steady job. He’s met numerous celebrities and performed at multiple professional sporting events.
And he’s been a part of Special Olympics for nearly 30 years.
Trevor, who resides in San Jose, recently volunteered his time to speak with students at nearby Lynhaven Elementary School to share his story and encourage the young boys and girls to open their minds to those who may be different than them. Nearly 600 students, split into older and younger grades, gathered to hear Trevor’s words and engage in a question-and-answer session about his background and his experience living with an intellectual disability.
The students’ questions ranged from the predictable: ‘what’s your favorite sport?,’ ‘how did you get all of your medals?,’ ‘are you good at all of your sports?’; to the more abstract: ‘can you do a backflip?,’ or ‘do you like pancakes or waffles?’
Trevor – who has sung the National Anthem at a San Jose Sharks game, thrown out a first pitch for the San Francisco Giants and considers stars like the NBA’s Aaron Gordon as his friends – spoke to make an impact on the young students and preached inclusion and respect for everyone on campus. Lynhaven’s principal, Beatrice Rowan, echoed his thoughts and encouraged her students to see Trevor as an example that anything is possible.
“He did not let having what people consider to be a disability stop him,” she explained to the class. “So that means that all of you in this room have the same opportunities and the same abilities to say, ‘I don’t know how to do something very well YET.’ Because if Trevor can get all of these medals, meet some super-famous people and do some amazing things, he’s doing pretty well, would you say yes?”
Special Olympics Northern California (SONC) works with hundreds of schools across the region to introduce general-education students to their peers with intellectual disabilities and encourage an environment of friendship at an early age. SONC believes that with understanding comes a greater sense of togetherness and respect – which leads to a more inclusive school experience for everyone.
The SONC Schools Partnership Program is a unique sports and education initiative that is active in more than 430 public K-12 schools, positively impacting 45,600 students in special education and general education programs. Through Unified Sports®, Special Olympics brings together students with and without intellectual disabilities to compete as teammates; while also supporting whole-school involvement activities and awareness campaigns to help build inclusion, respect and acceptance on campuses at an early age.