The Special Olympics BC mission is to “enrich the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities through sport.” In a town like Revelstoke, where sport is a part of so many people’s lives, the Revelstoke Chapter of the Special Olympics is going strong and aiming to grow.
“We have been working really hard to build a successful program for the last six years,” says Courtney Kaler, the director of the Revelstoke group.
The group is inclusive and ten Revelstoke athletes are currently involved.
“In the last few years we have really tried to grow our programs,” explains Kaler. “We currently run bowling, floor hockey, curling, swimming, bocce and we are going to try golf as a new program this year. There are many sports that athletes have expressed more interest in such as power lifting, basketball and soccer so we look forward to introducing those programs in the near future.”
The Special Olympics runs in a four-year cycle. The steps required to reach the Special Olympics involve qualifying for Regionals in year one, then Provincials the following year. If they are successful there, the athletes qualify for Nationals the year after, which culminates in the worlds in the fourth year.
“We have had Revelstoke athletes attend competitions locally, in Golden and in Kamloops. This season, we are looking forward to setting up more local competitions with teams in our region. This year is the year for Regional Qualifiers and we would LOVE to send some Revelstoke athletes to Regionals this season,” says Kaler.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but I know they can do it! This could be a very big year for Special Olympics BC Revelstoke,” Kaler enthuses.
Local athletes register for their sports in September.
“Depending which season the sport falls under, they get together with their coaches at least
once a week to practice. We usually run programs for a total of twelve weeks but some programs will run longer if there are competitions that we are sending athletes to,” she says. “Our sports programs usually pick up in October or November, and run until July. We also offer a program called Club Fit which is an exercise program open to all athletes to help with training and fitness for their sports. We usually run two sessions per month and this program runs all year long.”
New athletes of every age are always welcome.
“Our athletes range in age from two years and up. Youth can participate in our youth programs such as Active Start, FUNdamentals, and Sport Start. Active Start targets athletes from age 2 – 6, FUNdamentals targets athletes from age 7-11, and Sport Start targets athletes age 12 – 18.”
Revelstoke does not currently have any youth athletes registered in any programs.
“We are hoping by sharing our organization, we can attract some younger athletes so that we can establish some of these youth programs within the community of Revelstoke,” says Kaler.
Though some athletes are competitive, there is a misconception that people hear the work Olympics and feel their children or themselves are not athletic enough. This is not, notes Kaler, the case.
“Special Olympics is for everyone, no matter what their ability might be. Athletes have the opportunity to participate recreationally (for fun) or they can strive to compete at regional, provincial, national, or international events,” Kaler enthuses. “Through sports, our athletes are seeing themselves for their abilities, not their disabilities. They become confident and empowered by their accomplishments. They make new friends, as part of the most inclusive community on the planet – a community that is growing every day. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.”
Volunteers are also needed.
“You don’t need a sports background to volunteer. All you need is enthusiasm for helping empower people with intellectual disabilities through sport,” explains Kaler. “There are many reasons to get involved, and many benefits. Whether you can give a few hours at an event or want to get involved weekly, we have a position for you.”
Whether you are or you know an athlete or individual who would be interested in participating or volunteering can contact Courtney Kaler firstname.lastname@example.org