After two years of reduced programming, Special Olympics Ontario’s (SOO) local sports programs are coming back in full-swing.
“I know that the athletes and the volunteers are all very much looking forward to getting back to their sports,” says Hellaina Rothenburg, Program Consultant for SOO Central Ontario. “Having sport in their lives is very important, and a lot of people really miss having that.”
According to Rothenburg, organization mainstays– five-pin bowling, curling, swimming, cross-country skiing, and floor hockey– are returning in most places this fall, plus expanded offerings such as bocce ball, snowshoe racing, pickleball, and softball.
“The mission is to enrich the lives of athletes with an intellectual disability through sport,” says Rothenburg. “So by providing them opportunities to train and compete, it gives them an overall improvement in their life, confidence, skills, things like that.”
Rothenburg says they’re looking for local volunteers in a wide range of positions.
“Volunteers are the backbone of our programs. This is a grassroots organization, [and] all the community programs are led fully by volunteers,” says Rothenburg. “Volunteers include roles of coaching in any of the sports, but you don’t need to know a lot about sport to be one of our volunteers. It’s all about engagement and encouragement.”
Rothenburg adds that volunteers can also fill administrative roles such as fundraising, school outreach, and many other roles.
Rothenburg says the organization is still working on its online presence in Parry Sound and Almaguin Highlands. In the meantime, anyone interested in participating or volunteering can contact her at [email protected] or 1-888-333-5515 x276.
“There has been programming here in the past,” says Rothenburg. “Volunteerism is really important for this area, and that’s something that we’re hoping to address now that we’re on the other side of the pandemic.”