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February 2017 Newsletter

Snowshoeing action at the 2017 SOBC Snow Sports Festival

Pledging #respect and ending the R-word

Ending the R-word at LV Rogers

Tomorrow (March 1) is the ninth annual international Spread the Word to End the Word awareness day! Champions will be encouraging everyone to take the pledge to end the hurtful use of the R-word and support inclusion and respect for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Invite all your friends and all their friends to take the pledge at r-word.org, and stay tuned to Special Olympics social media accounts to follow the fun!

motionball’s #NoGoodWay campaign will join the call for the elimination of the use of the R-word. Find their posts on Facebook @nogoodway and Twitter @motionball.

Another inspiring anti-bullying call: viaSport British Columbia and the Government of B.C. have launched the #ERASEbullying campaign focusing on ending bullying in sport. On February 22, SOBC joined Premier Christy Clark, Minister of Sport Peter Fassbender, and many fellow provincial sport organizations who have taken the pledge to erase bullying in sport. Everyone else can too! Learn more at viaSport.ca/erasebullying

>> Read about last year’s R-word awareness day in B.C.

Get freezin’ for a reason at the Polar Plunge on March 4

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC

The 2017 Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC presented by Westminster Savings is coming up on Saturday, March 4! This is your chance to get bold and cold with SOBC athletes, Law Enforcement Torch Run members, and local celebrities including BC Lions players Emmanuel Arceneaux, Marco Iannuzzi, and Travis Lulay!

The Polar Plunge will see fearless participants show off their style in a costume contest, earn awesome incentives and prizes, and plunge into the icy waters off Kitsilano Beach to raise funds and awareness for SOBC. Plungers can sign up as a team or an individual. Encourage your friends, family, colleagues, and classmates to take part and join the fun!

Too chicken to get chilly? You can still show your support by making a donation to the Polar Plunge.

Sincere thanks to Presenting Sponsor Westminster Savings; Media Sponsors 96.9 JACK FM, City Television, and OMNI Television; and Event Sponsors Dueck Auto Group, Safeway, and Tim Hortons.

>> Register now

Special Olympics Team Canada set for 2017 World Games

Team Canada member Katherine St. Amand

The countdown to competition has begun, as 108 Special Olympics Canada athletes with intellectual disabilities, plus 35 volunteer mission staff and coaches, prepare and train for their trip to the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria March 14 to 25.

Sending a special shoutout to all the team members from B.C., including the recent addition of alpine skier Katherine St. Amand, who competed in the Games cycle as a Special Olympics Alberta athlete but has joined SOBC by moving to Maple Ridge!

We can’t wait to cheer for all of you at the culmination of your multi-year journeys to the World Games!

“Our Team Canada athletes, coaches, and mission staff are well prepared for this year’s World Winter Games,” said Marian Coulson, Chef de Mission for Special Olympics Team Canada. “The passion and skill level of our team is unmatched; we expect great results at these Games and, as always, a lasting impact on communities across the country.”

>> Read more

Westminster Savings launches provincial partnership with SOBC

Westminster Savings logo

Committed to changing lives and benefitting communities, Westminster Savings Credit Union (Westminster Savings) has kicked off a three-year provincial partnership with Special Olympics BC to celebrate the power and joy of sport.

As a SOBC Provincial Partner from 2017 to 2019, Westminster Savings is serving as the Presenting Sponsor of the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC. In 2017, the credit union’s funding will also create opportunities for athletes to compete in the 2017 Special Olympics BC Summer Games in Kamloops held from July 6 to 8, and to support SOBC’s important programs helping individuals with intellectual disabilities improve their health.

The partnership, one of three initially announced by Westminster Savings in October 2016, involves gifts of $75,000 each year to help Special Olympics BC programs enrich the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

“At Westminster Savings, we know that active living provides numerous health benefits that enrich the lives and wellbeing of individuals and our communities,” says Gavin Toy, President and CEO, Westminster Savings. “We are honoured to embark on this three-year partnership with Special Olympics BC as they help local athletes gain confidence, skills and friendships through sport.

>> Read more

Champions for Inclusive Health come together to create change

Athletes Robyn Rauh and Vincent Li at Inclusive Health meeting

Based on available local and international data, we can see that British Columbians with intellectual disabilities have lower life expectancies, live more sedentary lifestyles, and are hospitalized more frequently than the general population. The impact on their lives, their families, and our health care system is profound. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We can and must address the gaps in our systems to ensure that individuals with intellectual disabilities live longer and healthier lives. We can make a difference and stop letting individuals with intellectual disabilities fall through the cracks and struggle in the shadows. But to do so, key champions of health and people with intellectual disabilities need to work together.

Special Olympics British Columbia firmly believes that B.C. has the necessary resources, expertise, and compassion to become a global leader in health services for people with intellectual disabilities. On February 1, we convened a Champions for Inclusive Health meeting, a conversation with senior representatives from more than 40 impactful organizations to discuss how we can collectively have a profound impact on the health of people with ID.

>> Read more

Health and functional testing events coming to Fort St. John, Kelowna

Recent SOBC Healthy Athletes Health Promotion screening

Healthy Athletes and functional testing are coming to Fort St. John on March 26! Special Olympics BC will be hosting free, fun Healthy Athletes screenings and functional testing sessions at Fort St. John’s Bert Bowes Middle School.

Healthy Athletes screenings will be offered in three disciplines: FUNfitness, Health Promotion, and Strong Minds Strong Bodies. Free, fun, and open to all local individuals with intellectual disabilities, Healthy Athletes screenings identify issues in a supportive setting and ensure participants get the care they need. To learn more, please contact SOBC’s Ashten Staffen by email or by phone at 604-737-3081 direct / 1-888-854-2276 toll-free.

In addition, Kelowna-area athletes will have the opportunity to participate in functional testing on March 25 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Parkinson Rec Centre. Please click here to register

Functional testing involves exercises that measure fitness and foundational movements. These sessions are used to test an athlete’s fitness level, and to motivate and guide his or her training. Functional testing is important as it provides feedback to coaches regarding the program’s effectiveness and shows the personal progress of each athlete.

BC LETR continues to step up for SOBC

Delta Police Department members and SOBC – Delta athletes raising funds for SOBC

Heartfelt thanks to the Delta Police Department and all the friends who attended and volunteered at the Vancouver Giants hockey game on December 27 to support Special Olympics BC! Law Enforcement Torch Run and SOBC – Delta members also sold 50-50 tickets at the Giants game on January 23. Together, the two events raised more than $6,000 for SOBC!

Upcoming BC LETR fundraisers

  • Are you and your friends strong enough to pull a fire truck? Find out by taking part in the 2017 West Vancouver Fire Truck Pull on April 29! Registration is $250 for a team of eight to 10 people. Sign up and find out more at westvanfiretruckpull.kintera.org
  • Cheer on Mission RCMP members as they sweat it out on stationary bikes to raise funds and awareness for SOBC at their Cycle for a Cause fundraiser! This fun event will take place on March 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Save-On-Foods in Mission.
  • SOBC – Coquitlam athlete Mandy Manzardo and Oak Bay Police Department Constable Sheri Lucas will take part in the LETR Final Leg to kick off the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games! You can help Manzardo and Lucas raise funds for SOBC and Special Olympics International as they prepare for the 2017 LETR Final Leg.

2017 SOBC Games online volunteer registration now open

2017 SOBC Games logo

Online volunteer registration is now open for the 2017 Special Olympics BC Summer Games, thanks to the form launched by the Kamloops Sports Council. With more than 1,600 athletes, coaches, and mission staff set to converge in Kamloops from July 6 to 8, the 2017 SOBC Games will need over 1,000 volunteers to create an empowering and inspiring experience for the participants from all around the province and the Yukon.

Visit www.sobcgameskamloops.ca and click the “Volunteer” icon to find the form and be part of this rewarding experience. Sign up early to secure your spot – the 2015 SOBC Games filled all available roles!

Games venues and sponsors in the spotlight

Get to know the great Kamloops venues that will welcome the 2017 Special Olympics BC Summer Games, and the sponsors who are helping make it all possible! This month, learn about the School District #73 schools that will host basketball.

The 12 teams (120 athletes) competing in basketball will hit the court in South Kamloops Secondary School and Beattie School of the Arts JP Campus (also known as John Peterson Secondary). The full-size gyms will provide plenty of spectator seating and excitement. These schools were also the super venues for the 2015 SOBC Winter Games floor hockey events.

Sincere thanks to the Games sponsors who have signed on to date:

  • Platinum Sponsors: City of Kamloops and School District #73
  • Gold Sponsors: New Gold – New Afton Mine and TD Bank Group
  • Bronze Sponsors: Binnie Consulting, Domtar – Kamloops, and Teck
  • Media Sponsors: Broadcast Centre, Kamloops This Week, and NL Broadcasting

New Car Dealers driving support for SOBC

New Car Dealers Association logo

The members of the New Car Dealers Association of BC have been strong supporters of Special Olympics athletes and programs throughout the province since 1984, and they will continue their outstanding support at the Vancouver International Auto Show Gala on March 28, giving SOBC the opportunity to raise awareness at this highly anticipated Auto Show kickoff event. The Vancouver International Auto Show, which this year will run March 28 to April 2, is Western Canada’s best-attended consumer automotive event.

At last year’s Auto Show Gala, Team BC 2016 athlete Ken McLean, who won National Games gold in Newfoundland with his floor hockey team, gave a speech to express his appreciation for Special Olympics and the support of B.C.’s New Car Dealers.

“Since joining Special Olympics, I have come out of my passive shell. I was able to get off the couch, get a job and be physically active. This has assisted me to develop friendships with fellow athletes, coaches and volunteers. This support network has allowed me to set goals and achieve them,” he said.

Also returning soon is the annual New Car Dealers Foundation / Special Olympics BC Auction, the online auction that has raised just under $4.6 million for SOBC to date. We are very grateful for the ongoing support of New Car Dealers of BC!

Reminder: Athlete Leadership courses coming soon

Special Olympics Athlete Leadership programs give athletes the chance to develop their public speaking skills, governance knowledge, and confidence, helping them grow as leaders off the fields of play. The next opportunity for Special Olympics BC athletes to participate is coming up March 31 to April 2 in the Lower Mainland, where SOBC will offer Athlete Speakers Bureau 1 and 2, Athlete Governance, and Health Heroes courses.

Athletes and volunteers who would like to participate are asked to contact their Local Coordinators.The deadline to register will be March 10. We look forward to working with all participants, returning and new!

>> Read more

Hardworking volunteers honoured with community awards

SOBC – Vernon volunteer Marie Morris with members of her family at the Vernon's Good Citizen of the Year presentation

Sincere congratulations to Special Olympics BC volunteers Susan Foisy and Marie Morris who have received recognition in their communities for their outstanding volunteer work.

An inspiring SOBC – Kelowna volunteer who is driven to make a difference for Special Olympics athletes, Foisy received a 2017 Community Sport Hero Award at a reception held by the City of Kelowna and PacificSport Okanagan on February 8.

SOBC – Vernon Registrar Morris (pictured) is a dedicated volunteer who is always eager to help out in any way she can. She was named Vernon’s Good Citizen of the Year in a ceremony on January 25. The award was presented by Junior Chamber International Vernon in front of a large crowd of Morris’s friends and family.

>> Read more

>> Remember to nominate deserving SOBC athletes, coaches, and volunteers for the 2017 SOBC Awards by April 5 – please click here to find nomination forms! Locals may nominate one candidate for each award. We hope to see a nominee from every Local, as we know everyone has such amazing athletes and volunteers!

SOBC introducing new Club Fit Summit

Club Fit

On April 8-9, Special Olympics BC will be hosting a Club Fit Summit for coaches of this valuable fitness program!

Club Fit is part of Special Olympic BC’s long-term athlete development model. It aims to improve athletes’ overall wellness by helping athletes optimize potential and provide lifelong activity opportunities. The summit will help get Club Fit coaches excited about the program, feel connected with our organization, and feel empowered to be a resource for sport coaches.

The summit will be held in Richmond at City Centre Community Centre. To learn more, please contact SOBC’s James Marchand by email or by phone at 604-616-1342 direct / 1-888-854-2276 toll-free.

>> Find Club Fit coach resources

Great competition development on the go

Kelowna basketball tournament

2016-17 has been a great sport season to date for competition development, in an effort to provide experience and education to new Special Olympics BC athletes and coaches.

In November, SOBC – Comox Valley hosted a development swim competition with a focus on teaching athletes the ins and outs of attending a swim competition, which was well received by everyone involved. The swim event was followed up by a development powerlifting competition that was hosted by the Mount Waddington Local (pictured below), which saw athletes and coaches take part in a mock competition where each athlete went through their lifts and were then provided constructive feedback on each lift to improve their overall performance.

The action did not stop there! In December, January, and February, Prince George, Kelowna, and Vernon hosted floor hockey, basketball, and powerlifting meets respectively, where the focus was again about learning and developing game skills as opposed to ribbons or medals! The floor hockey event with SOBC – Prince George and Quesnel showcased the revival of floor hockey in the north for the first time in many years, and the basketball tournament in Kelowna was the first-ever event in the Okanagan for this fast-growing sport.

All of these events are part of SOBC’s continuing goal of providing athletes and coaches with the tools necessary to enjoy and excel in a competition environment.

Upcoming NCCP courses

NCCP course Fort St. John

Thanks to the terrific coaches taking part in the NCCP Special Olympics Competition Sport Workshop courses! Pictured at right is the recent workshop in Fort St. John, which was supported by the Northern BC Distance Education School who provided the use of their fabulous facilities for free, and by viaSport British Columbia’s $1,000 grant for northern coach development, helping with the increased costs of running these events in northern B.C.

The next courses are coming up in Kelowna March 25-26, Cranbrook April 8-9, Campbell River May 5-6, and Langley May 13-14. More Region 1 coaches must register for the Cranbrook course by March 13, or this opportunity will be forced to be cancelled. To find event details, please visit the SOBC website calendar.

Special Olympics NCCP courses provide professional development opportunities for SOBC coaches, and help create quality training experiences for athletes. Past participants have described the course as “informative and worthwhile,” with a good mix of educational instruction and group activities, and the great chance to meet other coaches from different sports and Locals.

All SOBC coaches are required to complete this course within their first year of coaching Special Olympics athletes, and coaches going to the 2017 SOBC Summer Games must have completed this course.

Speed skating skill on display in big Coquitlam meet

SOBC speed skating

On January 22, speed skating teams from Abbotsford, Coquitlam, Dawson Creek, Nelson, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, and Victoria came together for the big annual meet hosted by SOBC – Coquitlam. This meet was the largest of its kind in a number of years, based on the resurgence of the sport throughout B.C.

Much of the growth can be credited to the continued work of the Performance Program aimed at developing athletes and coaches and providing them with the tools to become stronger in their given sport discipline.

The meet also featured Paige Norton, Team Canada speed skating athlete, who used the competition as a “gear-up” event for the World Games happening in just under a month in Austria. Overall the event was a great success and all competitors are already looking forward to racing next year!

Successful try-it day connects Quesnel youth with Special Olympics

Quesnel try-it day curling

Special Olympics BC actively looks to work with school districts to help educate teachers, support staff, families, and the students themselves as to what we have to offer. In order to ensure that students with intellectual disabilities are aware of all the sporting opportunities available to them through Special Olympics BC in their local community, we host “try-it days.”

On January 27, Special Olympics BC in partnership with the Quesnel School District hosted a successful try-it day at the Quesnel Junior School to engage with local students. Twenty-four students attended from six schools, ranging from elementary through middle and secondary schools.

>> Read more

Regional Conferences return this spring

Special Olympics BC Regional Conferences create opportunities for volunteers to come together to share empowering connections and best practices as well as learning about available tools. This spring’s conferences are:

  • Region 6: April 7-9 at Camp Qwanoes in Crofton
  • Region 1 & 2: May 12-14 at Green Bay Bible Camp in West Kelowna

Interested participants are asked to contact their Local Coordinators. Stay tuned for details on the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley and northern conferences!

Coaches Corner: speed skating resources

One of the hardest skills to learn in skating is the crossover. Dallas Kurtz has been leading inline sessions with Special Olympics BC’s Performance Program to help our athletes improve their skating skills and become better skaters. These sessions have proven to be incredibly effective with our athletes.

Working with Dallas, we have created videos to help skaters improve their skills. We recommend taking advantage of these resources and hearing what Dallas has to say about skating.

You can check out the Learn to Crossover video and other videos on skating technique in our speed skating resource section.

SOBC staff update

SOBC logo icon

Melainie Hatt will be joining the Special Olympics BC team as Community Development Coordinator for Region 1, starting March 6. Melainie has worked with the Calgary Alternative Day Options as Program Manager, creating programs and opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to access vocational and recreational pursuits. She has many years’ experience working with individuals with ID, and is looking forward to using that experience with SOBC.

Our fond wishes are with outgoing staff Jill Harris, who has moved on to new opportunities in the area and will work with Melainie to transition.

Parent input invitation from Better Nights, Better Days for Children with NDD group

The following opportunity was shared with SOBC by the Better Nights, Better Days for Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders group.

Up to 25 per cent of Canadian children have trouble sleeping. This number rises dramatically, up to 90 per cent, for children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD). One common group of sleep problems is called insomnia. This means that the child has trouble settling down to sleep, falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking too early.

Poor sleep affects children’s physical and psychosocial health and for children with a NDD, poor sleep can also contribute to increased symptom presentation. Sleep problems can also interfere with the effectiveness of interventions, such as interventions for language development and positive behaviour supports.

When children get adequate sleep, their quality of life improves around the clock – better behavioural and emotional regulation, better mood, and better school performance! A better night’s sleep can also result in improved health and well-being for the entire family.

Better Nights, Better Days for Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders (BNBD-NDD) is a sleep intervention program that is being developed by a team of sleep experts and NDD experts from across Canada. BNBD-NDD is for parents to help them meet the unique needs of children with NDD and insomnia. It is an innovative online behavioural intervention. All materials are delivered via the internet, including tailored recommendations to help your child sleep better, and tracking of your child’s sleep. They plan to launch a large evaluation study of this program in January 2018. Currently, they are developing the program and looking for input from parents.

>> Learn more