Seniors’s Column

This week's column focuses on the Special Olympics and its importance in a community like Nakusp.

Special Olympics BC (Nakusp) is part of an important non-profit sports organization with a goal of providing individuals having intellectual disabilities, the opportunity to enhance their lives and to celebrate personal achievement through positive sport experiences.

Such experiences provide athletes with far more than just the physical benefits of improved health and athletic ability, notes Coordinator Hans Sparreboom. Participation in sports provides many opportunities for the athletes to develop social skills and cultivate friendships as well as striving for and achieving goals. In turn, this leads to increasing the individual’s development of social skills, which enriches our lives overall.

Research has shown that active participation helps to improve the health of participants. Athletes who participate in Special Olympics are found to have not only increased their sport skill level, but have also lost weight, improved their conditioning and increased their awareness of the need to ensure proper nutrition.

Many athletes who participate within the program have the opportunity to become involved as role models for others who have intellectual disabilities. Involvement within our community branch helps ensure another important benefit: members of the general public gain a better appreciation of the abilities and gifts of individuals who have intellectual disabilities.

This leads to the recognition that our Special Olympics athletes are valued members of society. In addition, coaches and volunteers also benefit from being involved, including secondary school students through to retired sports enthusiasts, added Sparreboom. We believe that by volunteering in whatever capacity where appropriate, these individuals will learn valuable life lessons.

In the case of SOBC (Nakusp) our local plans to meet with other teams in our region. The community will benefit financially from all of the attendees residing outside the area who are traveling to our community and will likely increase the level of tourism.

Another important point to consider is that SOBC does not discriminate against individuals based on gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or income. Furthermore, we are proud of the fact that one of the guiding principles is that no individual shall be denied access to the programs, because they cannot afford to sign up.

An example of the methods used to encourage sustainability of our local, is to undertake a variety of fundraising activities such as the regular sale of raffle tickets with the winners being able to take home a generously filled Christmas or Easter basket of delicious foods and refreshments and various handcrafted items with all proceeds being used to support our local efforts.

Another popular event is the draw for a special hockey stick which is donated by a well-known professional player. Details are usually carried along with a photograph of our lucky winners in the Arrow Lakes News, following the draw.

It cannot be emphasized enough that all our volunteers, individual activity helpers and coaches as well as business donors including Home Hardware and Overwaitea (to mention just a couple of Nakusp area supporters who have been added to our growing list of regular donors), are greatly appreciated. Those wishing more information and in particular, those who are interested in becoming directly or indirectly involved in a voluntary capacity in future, may reach coordinator Hans Sparreboom at 250-265-4202 for details.


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