CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Special needs students from across Kanawha County were in Charleston Friday to put their athletic skills to the test.

Kanawha County Schools held their annual Exceptional Spring Games at Laidley Field.

GW senior Timmy Smith and his teacher

Megan McCorkle, assistant superintendent for special education and student support with KCS, said the event gives students the opportunity to compete in games and win prizes that they normally wouldn’t be exposed to.

“Often times they are not participants in other events that we hold so this is something that is very special for them. This is a way that they can celebrate themselves. This is something that their families can come to and feel the success of everything that they have put into their kids,” she said.

George Washington High School senior Timmy Smith was excited to bring home a gold medal after playing baseball with his coach and other classmates.

“My teacher is the head coach of George Washington High School,” he said. “I like throwing the ball.”

Herbert Hoover High School special education teacher Amy McVicker has been teaching students with disabilities for 19 years. She said her class looks forward the Spring Games each year as a way to celebrate their success.

“It makes their year. They come to school every day and they do what they can do and when we get to reward them with something like this, you can’t ask for anything better,” McVicker said.

Students got to participate in running, walking, jumping, softball, baseball, as well as hands-on craft activities, face painting, a sensory village and more. McCorkle said the event has grown over the years.

“We have expanded it so much that it’s not just athletic events,” she said. “Even if you are not a runner and you can’t throw a ball very well, there are things here that they would love and enjoy doing.”

Some students were in Charleston for the first time because they go to school in different parts of the county, McVicker said.

“They get to come here and they get to participate in things that normally they probably wouldn’t get to participate in. We have kids that live out in Clendenin or Elkview and they don’t always make to Charleston to do these kinds of things,” McVicker said.

McCorkle said the event also teaches students about real-life situations at large events.

“You get to teach them different skills. Often times crowds like this can be very intimidating and overwhelming for our students. It allows our teachers to prepare them for events in life that do have crowds,” she said.

High school marching bands and cheerleaders took part in Friday’s event. Each school was featured with a banner in a parade that took place before the games.