Menu Close

Edison Student Establishing SOULS Program

As the Edison Local School District adds unified sports to its repertoire, one student is looking to add a program which bridges inclusion and animals.

   Edison Jr. High eighth-grader Amelia (Mimi) Ault is working with officials to form the Special Olympics Unified Livestock Show (SOULS), which is set for Aug. 10 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. SOULS is a livestock show for county youth and young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities and unified special exhibitors will be paired with similar-aged mentors who will guide them through the entire show experience, including how to care for and show their preferred livestock animal.  An informational flyer and survey are being distributed to all county schools seeking youth mentors and special exhibitors, and those interested in participating should make their submissions by May 17 while Ault said matches will be made in June.

   “My goal is to bring students in Jefferson County 4-H and FFA together for a livestock show, showcasing the unique strengths of individuals with disabilities. This would provide everyone involved with an opportunity to create bonds, promote agricultural education and expand interests while gaining valuable life experience,” she said. 

   Ault added that Edison is the first in the state to partner with Special Olympics and start a Unified Livestock Club. She has met with Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools Director of Youth Engagement Kristi Peters, district Superintendent Bill Beattie, EHS Youth Sports Coordinator Jason Ensinger, district Director of Special Education Jamie Angelini, Edison FFA advisors Chuck Cline and Kristen Truex, Jefferson County Special Olympics Coordinator and county Board of Developmental Disabilities Activities Coordinator Steve Forte and county 4-H Youth Extension Educator Angie Allison, and she plans to further collaborate with the county fair board.

    “I began initial phases by getting approval for the event from the school and Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools. I then attended the local superintendent’s meeting to share information about the project,” she continued. “[The fair board] has already given permission to use the Jefferson County Fairgrounds at no charge for the event. So far, everyone I have reached out to has been very positive and accommodating.” 

    Ault, the daughter of Tom and Anna Ault of East Springfield, said the activity was close to her heart.

   “This event combines my passion for showing animals with my interest in helping individuals with disabilities. My sister Olivia, who has developmental delays and impairments from a stroke before birth, inspired me to come up with this idea,” she said. “I feel that this would be an excellent addition for youth in our county.”

   Meanwhile, Peters applauded Ault for her efforts to bring a unique perspective into the realm of Unified Champion Schools.

   “We are so excited to partner with Mimi on bringing her SOULS project to life in Jefferson County. With her sister at the heart of the project’s inception, Mimi is moving full steam ahead in creating a Unified Livestock show in conjunction with the county’s fair. This is a very new concept for Unified Champion Schools in Ohio and is the first of its kind here,” she added. “We are incredibly proud of the drive, leadership and focus that Mimi has exemplified since sharing the initial idea for this project last month. Since that time, she has pulled in major players to support her efforts in bringing this project to life. The innovation of our youth leaders is truly what drives the Unified Champion Schools movement, and Mimi certainly has risen to the occasion. We are in awe of all that she has accomplished in the SOULS project thus far, and are eagerly anticipating what is next for her not only with SOULS but within the Special Olympics mission as a whole.

  “I believe that I can speak for us all when I say that Mimi has impressed us all with her ability to focus on a goal and execute it to completion. We have watched as this incredible young woman begins the process of applying for grant funding, reaches out to community partners for in-kind gifts, conducts meetings with the Who’s Who of Jefferson County and works tirelessly to secure every item necessary to ensure the event’s ultimate success. All this while simultaneously attending to a rigorous high school schedule – and doing it all with the maturity, grace, fire and drive of someone well beyond her years. We are jazzed with Mimi’s trajectory and cannot wait to see what is next!”

   Additionally, Edison is planning to take part in sports activities with other area schools involved in the Unified Champion Schools program, such as football and basketball, while a track meet is set for May 14 at the EHS campus in Richmond. Ten EHS students took part in the Unified Sports Leadership Summit at JCBDD’s Jeffco Center in Steubenville last month while about 20 pupils have participated and assisted with track practices. 

   Ault hopes the livestock club will also increase numbers and said she will also be seeking further assistance from the public.

   “In addition to mentors and exhibitors, I will be reaching out to local businesses, clubs, organizations and county leaders to gain interest. My hope is that this event will be well-attended. It would be an honor to see special-needs youth create lifelong memories and shine in the show ring.”

We need your feedback!

Please open the survey below to let us know what you think about the Title I program services offered to your child. We would also like information about the parent involvement part of the program. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey. The responses will be used to improve the Title I program.