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Annual Job Olympics at Iowa School for the Deaf returns for 14th year

Posted at 7:54 AM, Mar 23, 2022

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — The Olympic Games have been over for about a month now, but a different type of Olympics took place in Council Bluffs Tuesday morning.

The annual Job Olympics is an event that brings special needs middle school and high school students across Southwest Iowa together to compete and have some fun in the process.

Iowa school for the Deaf has hosted the annual event now for 14 years, but yesterday was the first time they were able to have it in two years because of the pandemic.

“I love getting to see all the students come. They get really excited to show off their skills, and some are very nervous coming in, but our students and our staff are very welcoming,” Iowa School for the Deaf Speech Pathologist Abigail Bradley said. “It's just a really great opportunity. We haven’t been able to do this for two years so this is our first time back, which is great I love getting to do it again.”

At the Job Olympics participants complete timed tasks related to hands-on work skills. The students choose their categories to compete in such as assembling fast-food meal bags, bagging groceries, clearing a restaurant table, and much more.

These competitions allow students to show off their employability skills in a fun and encouraging environment.

“It’s just a great connection. We love bringing in the community to see what we’re doing. These are really awesome students who sometimes aren’t as recognized, and we think this is a great opportunity to recognize their job skills,” Bradley said. “Special Olympics recognizes their sports skills, so we like to recognize those real-life skills also.”

There were also events like laundry, recycling, and tools that allow students to apply what they’re learning and to gain more experience in independent living.

This year, around 30 students participated from East Mills, Sidney, Glenwood, Red Oak, Lewis Central and Iowa School for the Deaf. The East Mills Student Council judged the competitions.