The Missouri Alliance for Arts Education will present Mexico High School speech and theater teacher Sara Given with the Creativity and Innovation in Teaching award. Given will be recognized for creating the first ever Jellybean Speech Olympics competition.
The Jellybean Speech Olympics is a collaboration between the Special Olympics and the Jellybean Conspiracy, a non-profit organization that writes theater plays specifically for actors with disabilities.
Given said she was inspired to combine the two programs after attending a Special Olympics Believer’s Banquet.
Last year, the students placed third in the district Missouri State High School Activities Association reader-theater competition.
The program has quickly gained popularity among Mexico High School students, and as a result, given expanded the Jellybeans.
“Not only can our students with special needs do plays, but they could get up and do just what my speech team kids do every year, and do speech competitions,” Given said.
Given says she also collaborated with one of her students last year to create a festival that allowed students with special needs to showcase their talents through acting, speech, and reading poetry. The first festival was held last May.
Senior Peer Coach Delanie Jones worked with the Jellybean students to help construct their performance. Jones said the program is more than just a competition, but it helps students develop confidence.
“They get to realize they are an important part of society, whether or not all people realize that,” Jones said. “They have great capabilities that often aren’t recognized. Through Special Olympics, they get to develop those and really have a passion for something in life.”
Given will accept her award March 11 at the state capital. The Mexico Jellybean group is set to perform.