Jessamine Connection students compete in equine Special Olympics

By Joel Sams
Senior News Writer

Three students from Asbury’s Jessamine Connection program, Adam James, Alex Wells and Harold Krank, competed at the Special Olympics State Equestrian Competition last Saturday, according to Renee Frantum. The competition took place at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.

The Jessamine Connection program is a partnership between Asbury and the Jessamine County school system which allows special needs students to take classes at Asbury. According to teacher Linda Edwards, Jessamine Connection students do not receive class credit, but they are held to the same classroom standards as other university students, and their courses are tracked as audits.

Although Edwards says students benefit from classroom interaction, the expectations can be difficult at times.

“It’s a little rough because not only do they have to meet Asbury’s standards but also Jessamine County’s standards, and Asbury is a little stricter than they’re used to,” Edwards said.

Many aspects of classroom participation remain positive, though. Edwards says that when Jessamine Connection students are placed with students in education classes, both parties benefit.

“It’s nice to see how the education majors react because some of them are so far out of their comfort zone,” Edwards said. “It’s nice to see them grow as the students grow.”

In addition to taking a wide range of classes, Jessamine Connection students have the opportunity to take riding lessons and compete in the Special Olympics. From the beginning of the semester, students have six weeks to train for the event.

Besides the enjoyment of riding and competi- tion, Edwards says that focus and confidence are two of the ways she has seen her students benefit from participation.

“When [Wells] competes, he carries himself differently on the horse,” she said. “We’ve already noticed a difference in [Krank] in focus, and I would say that’s come about because of the horses. I’ve seen [James] gain confidence, too. He first came in on a huge horse, and he was a little intimidated. He’s no longer intimidated, and I’d like to see him continue riding.”

James took bronze in Western Equitation and silver in Western Working Trails, Wells took gold in Western Equitation and fourth in Western Working trails and Krank took silver in Western Equitation and sixth in Western Working Trails.

Competition areas included “dressage, English and Western equitation, English and Western working trails, and showmanship,” Frantum said, and competitors included 64 students from nine programs throughout the state.

Teaching assistant David Moore says that the students’ confidence carried over into the competition on Saturday, despite some initial nervousness on the part of the horses.

Although the horses were initially skittish, Moore said, things calmed down during the com- petition. “Once they were out in the arena, they did fine, and these guys showed a lot of poise and confidence on horseback,” he said.

The Special Olympics oath is:  “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”