Photo by Courtesy
Christian Farren makes a quick turn during an Empower-lympics race at Nock Middle School Saturday.
  Empower-lympics makes room for all

By Gillian R. Swart

GateHouse News Service
Friday, May 25, 2007, 12:40 PM EDT

published in the Newburyport Current issue dated
May 25, 2007


Newburyport - When Nock Middle School students Christian Farren and Tyler Haynes learned about the Paralympic Games, they decided to start their own recreational sporting event to highlight the achievements of area kids with disabilities.

"It's difficult to qualify for Paralympics," Christian said at their first Empower-lympics Saturday, May 19. "We just decided to do our own version - any kid with a disability can get in."

The Paralympic Games is an elite international sporting event for athletes with physical disabilities; it is held every four years following the Olympic Games. The Special Olympics is for people with intellectual disabilities.

"We were doing regular occupational therapy things like writing," Tyler added, "and then we looked at each other and said wouldn't it be great to have some kind of field day here."

They approached the school district's Occupational Therapist Erin Rich, who suggested doing a variation of the Olympics. The two kids began to plan.
"These guys helped come up with the events," Rich said.

Soon everyone was on board - Jan Krusemark, gym teacher at the Nock, Principal Barry Hopping; retailer Life is Good, which donated 46 shirts; the Commission for Diversity and Tolerance, which donated funds; Shaw's, Angelina's, and a couple of anonymous donors. Soon Nock fifth grader Jessica Brown joined in the planning.

They couldn't use the term "Paralympics" so they came up with Empower-lympics, Christian said. They sent out fliers and e-mails to schools in neighboring communities, hospitals and other agencies and got a pretty good response for their first outing.

The boys are both 12 years old and had just completed a lesson on diversity and the Paralympics when they came up with their brainchild.

"Let the games begin!" Tyler proclaimed after a brief opening ceremony, and they were off.

Twelve kids, including four from Newburyport, signed up to take part in a series of individual events in the gym at Nock Middle School. An important part was not to compete with each other, but with their own personal best - although there were some hot races between friends in their power chairs.

Activities included the Wheel-round 500 (Christian's idea), a running race, an obstacle course, and a ring toss. Most of the kids were in wheelchairs, so Tyler will have to wait until future events to race other kids on crutches.

"It's a good celebration of their strengths," Rich said.

"I'm so proud of him, I can't even tell you," beamed Pam Farren, Christian's mom, who made all the certificates and awards.

"They don't have this in very many communities," Christian noted in the interview.
The boys hope to make this an annual event, with several practice meets throughout the coming year.

Anyone interested in participating in or volunteering for future events should email to

(This article replicated online with permission of the Newburyport Current; parental permission for posting obtained.)
Webmasters note: Looming wisdom ~ review another article about Christian's versatile skills, archived at our Website (link without) and note a Web page of his craftsmanship at the Website (direct link without). Seems that Christian displays true mettle in all he ventures!

For take note that in the June 15, 2007 issue of the Newburyport Current ~ the "Undercurrents" column made a comment commending Christian as follows:

"Gold medals for Farren - Congratulations to Christian Farren of Newburyport. Christian, along with his buddy Tyler Haynes, is one of the founders of the Empower-lymics, a recreational sports program that highlights achievement of area students with disabilities. Christian is the proud winner of eight gold medals at an event last week."
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