The Ensenada Special Olympics
Aiding the Courageous
Westmont Students Help Ensenada Special Olympics
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Over the last 30 years the students of Westmont College have developed an intimate connection with the people of Ensenada, Mexico. Potter’s Clay, which derives its name from a Bible passage, is a completely student organized and operated volunteer group that works with the churches of Ensenada to better the lives of the poor in the city.
Westmont students receiving the key to Ensenada in March 2007 in recognition for their longtime service.
Many times throughout the year, groups of Potter’s Clay members go down to spread their ministry. Two weekends ago the invitation of a local physician, Dr. Ramon Vidauri, who runs the Ensenada Special Olympics, a group of about 50 volunteers headed down to assist. Volunteers helped to run the events, serve food, and sow support for the athletes. The volunteers also brought with them a collection of over 100 pairs of shoes for the athletes that were donated by students of Westmont. The event, now in its fourth year, is called “Reto de Valientes,” which translates to “Challenge of the Courageous.” About 30 Special Olympics athletes from all over Baja California and even Los Angeles participate in events like basketball, soccer, and track and field. Karalea Shudde, a Potter’s Clay core team member, described the event as humbling. “As our relationships with the people of Ensenada grow, the more we all bless and learn from each other,” she said.
Every year about 300 students travel down to Ensenada during their spring break to provide a wide variety of services, ranging from free medical clinics staffed by both local and American doctors to building homes and other facilities with supplies often donated by local Santa Barbara businesses. The students also engage the community through soccer tournaments and Christian ministry to all ages.
Westmont students building homes in Ensenada during their 2007 spring break.
Student fundraising-including support from alumni and relatives finance the trips. The mission of Potters Clay is to build a relationship with the community they serve through faith and service. As Shudde, a Westmont senior, said, “We’re called to be one body in Christ: Part of the mission is being unified with the people of Ensenada.” The citizens of Ensenada have taken notice of the repeated benevolence of Potter’s Clay and last March the group was awarded with the key to city. The combined efforts of the Potter’s Clay group and the people of Ensenada have proven that spring break in Mexico does not necessarily entail reckless behavior but can be mutually beneficial for the local community and its visitors.