VALENCIA ( — The fifth annual Hart games, which encourages local students with special needs to get active, took place in Santa Clarita on Tuesday.

Hundreds of students participated in the event, which took place at Valencia High School’s track and field facility and features competitive events such as relay, high jump, a 200-meter dash, and a softball throw, in addition to others.

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“They love to compete,” Hart games director Patti Miller said. “You know, it’s a chance for them to do what other kids get to do when they don’t always get that chance.”

The Hart games partners with the Special Olympics in order to provide the event for the students.

The ability to go out and compete is beneficial for special needs students in a mental capacity, as well as physical.

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“This event, it impacts their learning for other things,” Miller said. “This brings out the desire to learn about physical fitness, ‘can they go to the gym’, nutrition, having a healthier body. They ask all the questions, they want to know more, they want to do better.”

A number of students said they looked forward to the event, even trained for it, for weeks or months in anticipation.

“I’ve been practicing all year, and (for) days and weeks at home,” one student said.

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Ultimately, in addition to the familiarity of overcoming adversity, the student shared another commonality on Tuesday — no matter what place they came in, they crossed the finish line with a big smile.