Chicago school hopeful for grant following Special Olympics success

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Two participants in the state Special Olympics brought home medals in an area many wouldn’t expect from city kids: equestrian.

For the first time in Chicago's history, two CPS students competed in, and medaled in, the equestrian events at the state Special Olympics last month.

Shane Blake and Tom Shimoda are both students at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, at 3857 W. 111th Street, participating in the school’s riding program for special needs kids. With help from the public, the program could be open to everyone in Chicago.

Three weeks ago, Blake took home the gold in his working trails class and placed fourth in stock seat equitation, also known as horsemanship. He was also honored as equestrian rider of the year.

Shimoda got bronze medals in both categories.

Their training was made possible through the riding program at CHSAS, which was started three years ago by animal science teacher Maggie Kendall.

Kendall aims to expand the program. She is a finalist in the Dream Big Teacher Challenge, and stands to win a $100,000 grant for an indoor facility not only to be used by her students, but people all across the city of Chicago.

There are 15 other schools across the U.S. that are up for the award.

To find out more on how to vote in the Dream Big Teacher Challenge, visit thankamillionteachers.com, Chicagoagr.org, or wgntv.com/features.

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