MONTROSE – The kids who participate in Special Olympics aren’t just amazing athletes – they can also be as creative as anyone.
That was the idea behind a project started by Darby Jones, a Montrose High grad who gave cameras to the athletes to take with them to the Colorado State Special Olympic Games this summer in Greeley, with instructions to take pictures of the competition from their own points of view.
A 2009 graduate of MHS, Jones got interested in photography by taking high school classes. Now at college, she is majoring in human biology with the goal of becoming a pediatric physical therapist. She has two internships in the pediatrics section at the Montrose Regional Rehabilitation Center already under her belt.
“She did one internship there and couldn’t get enough, so she went back and did it again, said Kim Jones, Darby Jones’ mother. “That’s when Darby decided to do a photography project and give cameras to give to elementary school students, but couldn’t get funding.
“She really liked working with those kids and kept trying to get grants to buy the kids digital cameras, but didn’t have any luck,” said Kim Jones. “Then she found out through the school that high school kids from Olathe and Montrose were going to the Special Olympics in June.”
So Jones’ family paid for 14 cameras to be used by the athletes, and 29 of the resulting photos are on display at Coffee Trader on East Main Street.
“They told us she can leave them up indefinitely,” she said.
Jones said she’s extremely proud of her daughter, who is doing the project to complete her Girl Scouts Gold Award, the equivalent of the Boy Scouts Eagle Award.
“The idea is to have this be a legacy project, for them to get to use the cameras over and over again,” Kim Jones said.
But the cameras were disposable, so Darby will probably work on getting grant funding again so she can give cameras that can be used again and provide cameras for all county athletes participating in the Special Olympics.
“We didn’t realize we had Olathe kids, too,” her mother said.
Her athletic daughter, now a red-shirted freshman at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, wasn’t able attend this year’s Special Olympics, but their teacher, Carolyn Rettig, gave her some great feedback.
“I heard from the teachers and Mrs. Rettig, who said they really enjoyed it and were so enthusiastic and excited and always had their cameras out,” said Darby Jones. “They really took to the project.”
And then she got firsthand feedback when she ran into one of the students in town just the other day.
“He gave me a hug and said he had so much fun with the camera,” she said. “It made my day.”
Calling the photo project “Through Their Eyes,” Jones wants people to see the event through the students’ eyes.
“I wanted to show people that they’re just as capable of doing things as everybody else, and they shouldn’t be looked over,” she said. ‘I wanted to show how creative they can be – and let them show it.”