What will #inspire you in 2016?

This year we resolve to…? How do you ________________fill in your blank?

At Special Olympics our goal is to expand public mindsets and opinions to truly understand what we do within our communities. If we were to ask you what “Special Olympics” is, ….what would your answer be? For many it would be “The Special Olympics Games“.An annual event we host that elicits images of athletes holding up medals crossing the finish line to cheers of applause and smiling faces.

We are much more than a dedicated network of 340 coaches offering over 160 weekly programs supported by 450 volunteers for 1700 athletes. We are :

  • Proactive government policy advocates and advisors for social change for families
  • A builder of communities (eg or number? Active start? Parental support)
  • Trainor’s of athletes in competitive sports that set national sports records like Jackie Barrettt
  • Organizers of health and wellness programs (FunFitness, Opening Eyes, Special Smiles, Healthy Hearing)
  • Connectors and sources of support for a network of social assistance programs and providers (NSDSS, RRS,

For many, Special Olympics is just a sport organization that does something “nice”. What we do is not just “nice”… it is important! Many of you understand the important work we do as witnessed by your generosity that helped us reach all those goals above and more. We are proud to say that we now have one of the best youth development programs for children aged 4-12 in every school board in Nova Scotia that is now expanding into community programs outside of the school gymnasium. We hosted our first weekend development camp for athletes to explore and train in new programs thus expanding our reach to new sports and growth across the Province.

Athletes were exposed to healthy athlete physical screenings at our Provincial Games to ensure their success is not inhibited by health problems due to lack of accessibility. Parents were offered summer day camps to help alleviate the days of summer vacation with the opportunity for athletes to expand their sport knowledge in a fun and inclusive environment.

We partner with our stakeholders in a very powerful initiative to help end the stigma of a label. The “#Spread the Word, to end the Word” engages youth, organizations and volunteers to help understand the power of how a simple word can hurt.

Most notably, we have been given the opportunity to #changethegame by implementing the first Play Unified sport program in Canada that will offer in school sport programs where athletes with an intellectual disability will play side by side with their school mates on a sports team that will be sure to break the stereotypes of those living with a disability amongst our next generational leaders.

All of this happens because our community cares, they choose to support an organization that is dong work that is very important, but at the same time also “nice”. This year our resolution is to continue to do the very best we can to improve the lives of athletes with an intellectual disability, just like we did last year.