'Exceptional' rodeo planned for special needs students
- By KEVIN REAGAN Staff Writer Casa Grande Dispatch/Pinal Central
CASA GRANDE — A Central Arizona College professor is organizing rodeo activities designed for elementary students with special needs at the upcoming Cowboy Days & O'Odham Tash.
This will be the first year Skyla Teel, who also is an assistant rodeo coach at CAC, hosts her "Exceptional Rodeo" for students of the Casa Grande Elementary School District.
She said about 170 special needs students will have a chance to ride a horse, rope a fake steer and feel the jolts of a bucking bull on Feb. 24.
Rodeo team members will be assisting the special needs students throughout the day, making sure they stay safe. Most of the activities are simulations meant to give students the experience of competing in a real rodeo.
Rodeo clowns and queens will also be on-site to amuse the students as they move through the non-competitive activities.
Teel, whose background is in elementary education, said helping students with special needs has always been important to her. She got the idea for the event after observing something similar at a rodeo in Casper, Wyoming, and thought it would be fitting to replicate in Casa Grande.
As someone who loves rodeo culture, Teel said it's her goal to expose the thrill of cowboys and bucking broncos to young people.
The activities are reserved for students being shuttled from Villago Middle School, McCartney Ranch Elementary and Cottonwood Elementary schools. Teel said she hopes special needs students from other CGESD schools will have the opportunity to participate next year.
"We want this to be something to happen each year," she said.
Teel is seeking volunteers to assist in the rodeo and donated items to be stuffed in goody bags. Those interested can contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.