At just 19 years old, Yasmin Neal of Forsyth County is already a seasoned Special Olympics athlete. Starting in the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program when she was 2 years old, Neal quickly developed a love for sports.
Young Athletes™ is an inclusive early childhood sports and educational play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities, aged 2 to 7 years old. When she turned eight, Neal began to compete as a Special Olympics North Carolina athlete.
Since then, Neal has learned much about herself and what being a Special Olympics athlete means to her.
“These past 17 years have taught her how to work with others and be a team player,” said Neal’s mother, Melissa.
Often described as committed to helping others, Neal goes out of her way to assist her fellow athletes. During practice, Neal can be found showing her teammates correct techniques, and motivating others to be strong and do their best.
Not only has her 17 years as an athlete taught Neal how to be leader, it has also given her a love for multiple sports. When she first became a Special Olympics athlete, bowling was the first sport Neal wanted to try. She thoroughly enjoyed it, and her excitement encouraged her to become a multi-sport athlete.
Competing in roller-skating, swimming, bowling, cheerleading, basketball, volleyball and track, Neal has collected dozens of ribbons and medals. However, her favorite memory was winning the silver medal for backstroke at Summer Games one year. The feeling of standing on the podium with her fellow athletes after competing in one of her favorite sports made the experience unforgettable for Neal.
Neal’s versatility extends beyond sports, though. With her involvement in the Top Priority Day Program in Forsyth County, Neal is able to try various skills every day, including Math, English, Art and Community Work. She even participates in the program’s theatre productions, and played Princess Fiona in their rendition of “Shrek.”
Neal believes her time with Special Olympics has helped shape and change her life. So, how long does she plan to be a Special Olympics athlete?
“As long as I can!” Neal said.
Congratulations Yasmin Neal on being named 2016 Special Olympics NC November Athlete of the Month!
Cereal: Frosted Flakes
Restaurant: Outback Steakhouse, because she loves the wings!
Shoes: Converse/Chuck Taylors
Video game: Candy Crush