Special Olympics set to kick off new season

Special Olympics Red Deer is gearing up for another great year of competition after holding their registration night last week.

The event is the annual kick off for the organization where they register athletes for all of their fall/winter programs, as well as for next year’s spring/summer programs.

“It went very well. I would say that we probably had 60-65 per cent of our returning athletes come to register and we registered approximately 35 new athletes,” said Special Olympics Red Deer Chair Jerry Tennant.

He added participation in sport has a number of benefits for Special Olympics athletes.

“For many of them, it’s their entire life in terms of being able to participate in a sport, which they may not be able to do if it wasn’t for Special Olympics. They get to do some travelling and they get to compete against other communities,” he said, adding many athletes also make lifelong friends while participating in Special Olympics programs.

This year, all of the organizations fall and winter programs start in October including swimming, floor hockey, five pin and 10 pin bowling, indoor soccer and curling.

Tennant added they hope to add a rhythmic gymnastics program in the New Year.

In addition to regular programs, Special Olympics Red Deer also hosts a number of social events such as Christmas parties and barbecues for their athletes.

“So as well as being able to compete in sport and improve their physical fitness, they also have an opportunity for social activities and social interaction,” Tennant said.

He added participation in sport is something fun for the athletes to do.

“The main part of it is having fun. It’s very laid back in some ways. Some of our programs are quite competitive but we run in what we call ability groups,” he said, explaining that instead of competing in age groups, Special Olympics athletes compete based on abilities.

“So everybody has a chance to succeed.”

Special Olympics are open to anybody over the age of 10 with an intellectual disability. For children ages two-12, the organization runs an Active Start and Fundamentals program in conjunction with Red Deer College.

The volunteer-run organization is also open to those who would like to come volunteer their time to help out.

Anyone who is interested in getting involved in Special Olympics Red Deer can contact Jerry Tennant at 587-273-4672 or by email at jerry@specialolympicsreddeer.ca.