Equestrian Competition Is Golden
By Ryan Atkinson, 15, and and Angela Wegscheider, 16
Scholastic News Online Student Reporters, Alaska

Jennifer S. Moug, of Italy, won gold in equestrian competition at the Special Olympics World Games in Dublin, Ireland.
(Photo: Gay Lee Erickson)
June 26—Jennifer S. Moug, of Italy, waited patiently with her coach for her results in the equestrian competition at the 2003 Special Olympic World Summer Games in Ireland. She was about to find out she received a gold medal in her event. She had won a gold in an earlier competition. While she waited, she agreed to talk with us about her life in Italy and her love of horses.

"I have been riding horses for nine years," said the 16-year-old girl from Scotland. She has been involved in Special Olympics for five years. She qualified for the World Games last year and has been practicing ever since. "I practiced once a week for one hour," she said.

Jennifer did not allow her parents or younger sister to come see her compete. "They wanted to attend but I spoke against it because it makes me nervous to have them watch," she said.

Jennifer has been in a mainstream High School in Perth, Scotland.

"I had a normal schedule and classes," she said. "At times, I was the only person with a mental disability in my class of 30."

She became involved in a lunchtime club that brings people with and without disabilities together to participate in activities such as games, drawing pictures, and playing on the computer.

"Our club is just beginning and it ranges in the amount of students who participate," she told Scholastic News Online. "I am trying to help make it grow by encouraging my friends to come. This club also helps me make new friends."

In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys playing on the computer, especially surfing the Web. She also enjoys hanging out with her friends.

"We go shopping, to the movies, and to the fair," she said. "My favorite foods are burgers and chips. I love to listen to the music from the band S Club Seven."

This fall, Jennifer will be attending Perth College. The first year she will participate in a special-needs course. She will also work in a nursery, which is right down the street from the college. She plans to study childcare in college.

When asked what she wants more than anything in the world, Jennifer replied with a smile, "a horse." For now, she has the gold!