Around the UFT

Victory Challenge Games

Deaf and hard-of-hearing students go for more than the gold

Miller Photography

Betty Hintz, the coordinator of Hearing Education Services at Martin Van Buren HS in Queens Village, cheers on Kedar Mertz. 
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Miller Photography

The group takes a break. 

Miller Photography

Tyrone Taylor leads Naiem Khan in the 200-meter race.

They raced, jumped, let arrows fly and, perhaps the best win of all, the 18 Martin Van Buren HS students joining the Victory Challenge Games for kids with disabilities experienced independence.

That included a taste of life in a college dorm. Students were housed at Hofstra University for the weekend games, which took place at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, Long Island, from May 31 to June 1.

“Some of our kids had never stayed away from home, shared space with a roommate or been on their own for a couple of evenings,” said Betty Hintz, the coordinator of Hearing Education Services at the Queens Village school.

For 15 years, Hintz has been taking deaf and hard-of-hearing students to the track-and-field event “for a weekend they will remember for the rest of their lives,” she said. “The Games achieve many purposes.”

Among those are pride in athletic performance and envisioning that college and independence are attainable.

Hintz doesn’t do it alone. She commended the 15 staff people — including teachers, paraprofessionals, sign language interpreters, a speech therapist, a former student and a student teacher — who all donated their time.

And how did the races, archery, shot put and high-jumping activities go? “They were phenomenal,” said Hintz.

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