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December 2015 Newsletter

Season's Greetings from SOBC

Please note: The SOBC Provincial Office will be closed for the holidays from December 19 to January 3, returning January 4. We wish you all a very happy holiday season and a great start to 2016!

SOBC year-end newsletter available now

SOBC 2015 newsletter cover

The Special Olympics BC year-end newsletter is hot off the presses, featuring great stories and moments from around the province in 2015. Check it out and share with your family and friends!

>> Read now

Team BC 2016 action on snow and ice

Special Olympics Team BC 2016 curler Glenda Melnychuk training

Members of the Team BC 2016 Training Squad wrapped up the series of team training camps with strong work in the snow sports camp at Sun Peaks Resort and the final curling camp in Quesnel.

All of the 129 athletes, 42 coaches, 10 mission staff members, and training coaches around the province are working hard in their home communities so that the athletes will be ready to shine in their seven sports at the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Give the gift of sport

SOBC holiday giving 2015

In this holiday season, you can help make a Team BC athlete’s dream come true! Your holiday donation to Special Olympics BC will help give athletes the life-changing experience of competing at the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador.

When athletes with intellectual disabilities have the opportunity to take part in Special Olympics Games, they change attitudes and inspire everyone with their pride, sportsmanship, abilities, and joy.

Our thanks to all who supported Team BC 2016 on Giving Tuesday! And also thanks to everyone donating this holiday season and spreading the word about the opportunity to help Team BC athletes have the empowering experience of competing at National Games!

>> Donate now

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Healthy Athletes Screening Day in Nanaimo a ‘huge success’

SOBC athlete Bryan and Opening Eyes volunteer Anita at the Healthy Athletes Screening Day in Nanaimo

In October, the first-ever Healthy Athletes Screening Day in Nanaimo was a great success, providing free health screenings in a fun and welcoming environment to 150 individuals with intellectual disabilities.

The event was the first of its kind on Vancouver Island to feature all six traditional types of screenings – Fit Feet, FUNfitness, Health Promotion, Healthy Hearing, Opening Eyes, and Special Smiles – and it also included a new discipline on mental preparation called Strong Minds, Strong Bodies that was part of a national pilot project. Sport psychologist Sarah Kiengersky, who has worked with Team BC 2014 and Team Canada 2015, is the SOBC Clinical Director for the new discipline, and she was joined by the discipline’s international Clinical Director at the Nanaimo event to help stage the discipline’s debut in B.C.

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Government of B.C. a vital backer of SOBC youth, health programs, competition

Government of British Columbia logo

Thanks to the support of the Government of B.C., Special Olympics BC is the place where young athletes such as Katie Oliver can take centre stage.

“Special Olympics gives her the opportunity to train and compete as an athlete, just as she has watched her brother in his own activities. With Special Olympics, she feels like the star of her own show,” the Oliver family said after the 2015 SOBC Youth Sports Day.

The Government of B.C.’s longtime support has allowed SOBC to offer more life-changing experiences and programs to athletes of all ages. Financially, between the government’s funding of sport and funds received through Community Gaming Grants from the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch, SOBC received more than $445,000 in 2015. SOBC Locals also received gaming grants to support their year-round programs.

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Moving TEDxVancouver talk by athlete Matthew Williams

SOBC athlete Matthew Williams at TEDxVancouver

On November 14, Special Olympics BC – Langley athlete and Special Olympics Board of Directors Member Matthew Williams stepped into the big spotlight of TEDxVancouver at Rogers Arena, and delivered a powerful talk about the impact of Special Olympics and his own experiences. Williams was one of 23 fascinating speakers to grace the stage that day, and he wowed the audience of more than 3,200, who responded with two standing ovations.

>> Watch now

Government of Canada funds critical training and competition for SOBC athletes

Government of Canada logo

The Government of Canada has been a crucial supporter of Special Olympics Canada and Special Olympics BC, providing funds to develop new and existing sport programs and competitive opportunities. Without this significant support, we could not offer the full range of opportunities that make such a difference in the lives of Special Olympics athletes and their families.

With the support of the Government of Canada, SOBC’s Performance Program is helping elevate performance by enhancing the skills of coaches and through them, all athletes of SOBC.

“I learned many useful strategies, how other coaches can engage just a couple of athletes when there is not enough for a game, and I learned a few new warm-up exercises that I was very impressed with and could see the benefit of with our athletes in many different sports,” said Special Olympics bocce coach Debbie Roblin after a 2015 Performance camp. “I left there feeling like I know I can coach this sport with no second thoughts. I am ready.”

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Law enforcement members carry the torch high in 2015

BC Law Enforcement Torch Run

2015 has been a big year for the BC Law Enforcement Torch Run, with significant events and fundraising achievements for Special Olympics BC by departments and detachments around the province. Thank you to the BC LETR for raising $147,000 this year for SOBC programs, raising awareness, and being champions for SOBC athletes!

In other exciting news, Rick Lucy, the BC LETR Director, was elected to the International Executive Council as the Region XI (Canada) representative and coordinator. Congratulations to Lucy for taking on this new role within the larger LETR movement.

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“Special Olympics is the epitome of inclusion”

SOBC - Sunshine Coast athlete Micheal Oswald

On December 3, the annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations and advocates around the world celebrated inclusion for people of all abilities. The Huffington Post ran a trio of articles about the inclusion and empowerment created by Special Olympics, and one of these moving stories was written by Special Olympics BC – Sunshine Coast Athlete Reporter Micheal Oswald.

“Special Olympics is the epitome of inclusion. We are welcomed into a family of open arms and loving hearts teeming with fair play, community, and athleticism. It’s terrific to be a part of something so beautiful,” he wrote.

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Honouring award winners Cheryl Friesen and Chuck Jeannes

SOBC - Vernon Local Coordinator Cheryl Friesen receiving Sport Hero Award

Special Olympics BC congratulates and thanks a pair of dedicated volunteer supporters recently celebrated for their outstanding work: SOBC – Vernon Local Coordinator Cheryl Friesen (pictured at right), deserving recipient of a Sport BC Community Sport Hero Award in Vernon, and SOBC Vice Chair Chuck Jeannes, President and CEO of Goldcorp, who was named one of Canada’s Most Admired CEOs of 2015.

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Celebrate Power of Unity with Alex and Ani Special Olympics bangle

In November 2014, Alex and Ani and Special Olympics International partnered to launch a Charity by Design charm bangle in the U.S., and the beautiful bracelet is now available for purchase in Canada.

The bangle, which is available in Rafaelian Silver and Rafaelian Gold, features the Special Olympics symbol on one side, and the Athlete’s Oath on the other. Alex and Ani will donate 20 per cent of the purchase price from each Power of Unity Charm sold to Special Olympics.

Canadian customers can purchase the bangles online, or at the 120 retail outlets across Canada that currently sell Alex and Ani bangles. Two Alex and Ani retail locations also recently opened in Ontario.

Building skills and fitness through Club Fit fun

SOBC - Trail Club Fit coaches River and Alexander

Special Olympics BC Club Fit programs are flourishing around the province, helping athletes strengthen their health and fitness levels to benefit their sport performance and their whole lives. The 2015-16 sport season has seen approximately six new Club Fit programs start around the province, and existing programs continue to thrive, like the fun and energetic SOBC – Trail Club Fit crew.

In December, SOBC posted a new Club Fit manual and resources to assist development of programs – please click here to check them out. If you are running a Club Fit program or would like to start one, please contact Morgan Hunter, SOBC Manager, Health and Sport Science, by email or by phone at direct or toll-free.

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SOBC figure skaters joining basketball players at BC Games

SOBC figure skater Emily Walzak

In February 2016, Special Olympics BC figure skaters from around the province will compete at BC Games for the first time ever.

Set to be held February 25 to 28, the Penticton 2016 BC Winter Games will include the debut of the Special Olympics figure skating event, and SOBC basketball players will also compete in their own division for just the second time at BC Games. Read about the “wonderful” experiences for SOBC basketball players at the Mission 2014 BC Winter Games. The SOBC athletes will join teammates from their respective regions to represent their home zones.

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Inspiring video shows power of Special Olympics

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to show everyone what I can do.”

In 2015, Special Olympics BC reteamed with talented writer-director Naim Sutherland to create a new video showcasing inspiring athletes and the impact of our movement. Working with producer Diana Donaldson of Allude Entertainment, a valued film crew, and a terrific team of athletes, Sutherland created a powerful PSA showing the confidence and abilities that athletes develop through Special Olympics.

The video stars rhythmic gymnast Danielle Juilfs, golfer Chelsea Kaake, figure skater Matthew Lai, softball player Jaykob Low, powerlifter Todd Moore, and alpine skier Jesse Price as the visual actors, and athletes Lindsey Aarstad, Adam Advocaat, Shane Carr, James Clifford, Chelsea Kaake, Mandy Manzardo, and Derek Santema as the voiceover actors.

>> Read more and watch video

SOBC powerlifters shine at Commonwealth Championships

SOBC powerlifter Nellie-Jo Kurta

Twelve Special Olympics BC powerlifters impressed on December 1 as they took the stage alongside more than 500 competitors from throughout the commonwealth at the 2015 Commonwealth Powerlifting Championships.

The competition at the Richmond Oval involved participants from among the 23 member nations of the Commonwealth Powerlifting Federation. Special Olympics athletes had their own category and kicked off the whole competition. Twelve SOBC powerlifters from Abbotsford, Campbell River, Chilliwack, Langley, and Vancouver competed alongside two athletes from Special Olympics Great Britain.

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SOBC: growing in leaps and bounds for 35 years

Longtime volunteers reflecting on SOBC history

In 2015, the Year of Sport in Canada, Special Olympics BC turned 35! We’ve come a long way in the last three and a half decades, with many dedicated sponsors, supporters, celebrities, volunteers, and athletes all working to change lives through sport.

Marilyn McLean, one of the founding champions of Special Olympics in this province and the current SOBC – Kamloops Local Coordinator, recalls how SOBC got started.

“We were for the most part young and keen and willing to do whatever it took to get programs established,” McLean said of the volunteers who started it all. “We really learned from each other and many of the volunteers were teachers and Parks and Recreation personnel.”

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New sport rules, resources available on SOBC website

This sport season has included the introduction of major Special Olympics Canada rule changes in the sports of soccer and figure skating. The new seven-a-side soccer rules are available on the SOBC website here, and the updated figure skating rules are available here along with the accompanying skills chart here. Please click here for an explanation of the changes courtesy of Special Olympics BC – Surrey figure skating Head Coach Elizabeth Roman, who generously worked with the national committee tasked with developing these important new rule changes.

In rhythmic gymnastics, Special Olympics International has introduced new compulsory routines for 2016 to 2023. All have been posted on the SOBC website here for athletes and coaches.

Check out the latest coaching videos created through the Performance Program – curling tips and drills from the first SOBC Curling Performance Camp! Please click here

And PR Coordinators and Locals looking for information and resources for SOBC marketing and branding can visit the new website page dedicated to public relations tools.

The Resources section on the SOBC website is full of tools for athletes, coaches, and volunteers, so please check it out and visit regularly as tools are added and updated frequently.

>> Resources section