Special Olympics growing, thriving

Robin Short & John Browne
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Over 270 athletes compete in provincial Summer Games, 33 will go to 2014 national Games

The provincial Special Olympics program is thriving these days,

“There’s no question,” said Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador (SONL) program director Darrin Reid, “the program is doing very, very well. And the athletes are benefitting from it.”

Two hundred and seventy-seven Special Olympians from across the province converged on St. John’s and Mount Pearl over the weekend for the two-day provincial Summer Games — “Share the Dream in 2013” — which included five sports — athletics, bowling, soccer, swimming and, for the first time, rhythmic gymnastics.

Thirteen clubs took part, including the host teams from St. John’s and Mount Pearl, C.B.S., Trinity-Conception, Fortune, Clarenville, Gander, Exploits, Baie Verte, Corner Brook, Bay St. George, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Bonavista North, which made its debut in the provincial Games.

“All of them are active clubs,” Reid said. “Bonavista North, C.B.S. and Baie Verte, for example, have only bowling, and Bay St. George has athletics primarily, but all of the clubs are quite active.”

Based on national numbers dictated by Special Olympics Canada, Newfoundland has a quota of 33 eligible to compete in the national Special Olympics Games.

The next Canada Summer Games are slated for the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in July, 2014, and Newfoundland and Labrador will send nine athletics competitors, five swimmers, one team of five bowlers, one team of 10 soccer players, one rhythmic gymnast, two powerlifters and one golfer (the provincial Special Olympics golf championship is Aug. 17-18 in Gander).

In addition to that, there are coaches, and Reid will lead the group as the chef de mission and will have a mission staff. rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador, University of British Columbia

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Baie Verte, Bonavista North Newfoundland and Labrador Clarenville Corner Brook Happy Valley Goose Bay Canada Vancouver

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  • Jackie Barrett - Special Olympian
    July 22, 2013 - 06:49

    Darrin Reid said that four clubs have one Special Olympics program where Bonavista North, Conception Bay South, and Baie Verte have only 5 Pin Bowling and Bay St. George has only Athletics. In the long term, clubs providing just one Special Olympics program will hurt their ability to grow as athletes and potential athletes want more choice, meaning more sports available. In the case of Conception Bay South, while this town has one of Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador's highest registered athlete population levels, they only provide one program, 5 Pin Bowling. Athletes wanting to do other sports have to go other Special Olympics clubs like Mount Pearl and St. John's. The concern with having just 5 Pin Bowling is that Special Olympics Canada are thinking about removing this sport from the national games lineup after the 2014 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games, meaning Baie Verte, Conception Bay South, and Bonavista North could have difficulty sending athletes to the national games. If large clubs like Conception Bay South wants to sustain itself and grow in the future, the next step are to provide more Special Olympics programs like Athletics, Powerlifting, Swimming, Golf, Soccer, Basketball, Figure Skating, Snowshoeing, Floor Hockey, and Curling, not just focus on 5 Pin Bowling. In fact, Special Olympics Gander's registered athlete levels have grown considerably over the last three years not just due to their population growth, but also their ability to provide more program choices for their athletes. In other words, if Gander can benefit greatly from providing more Special Olympics sports choices, so can large clubs like Conception Bay South.