Today was no exception. I sense a "fraternity" among those kids. They are out there trying their best and while they do race for the goal as anyone would, there is little fanfare about who wins and who "loses". From what I can see nobody loses or is made to feel that way (well okay we adults were allowed our moment of shame when we failed the jump rope event but that is another post).
The team members are from "nensho to nencho"*. The kids must run in groups of three all holding a newspaper and running so that they do not rip the paper. They are matched so that a nensho, nenchu and nencho all run together in a team. As you can see above, usually the older kids are galloping ahead of the little one but most of them did a pretty good job of making sure they weren't too far ahead.
Sprout is on the "blue team" and she is very lucky to be on a special team; her team has 2 kids with limited abilities. They are never sidelined in any of the events, and in this case one girl walked as her teacher held her up. It was a struggle and she didn't get all the way around on her own steam but she was part of this team and her team mates waited patiently for her. The second girl made it completely around in a walker. Again, her team mates were with her for this even if it meant they had to walk the course instead of bolting. She was the last one in and the blue team was, of course the last team to finish, but nobody seemed to notice. Everyone was busy cheering this little girl on. The smile on her face when she reached the goal was the best prize. I'm sure I wasn't the only with a tear in my eye or a lump in my throat.
I noticed a small but very important thing they do at these events. They have a finish line but they hold it up for EACH participant as he/ she finishes so there is even less emphasis on who is first but rather on simply finishing it to the best of your ability.
*nensho = 3-4 years old
*nenchu = 4-5
*nencho = 5-6