What is Special Olympics?

When people think of Special Olympics, they often think of the Paralympics.

When people think of Special Olympics, they often think of the Paralympics, a single sporting event, or activity for “the kids.”

These are common misconceptions, but misconceptions they are. The primary focus of Special Olympics is to enrich the lives of individuals with an intellectual disability through sport. The focus on intellectual disabilities is what differentiates Special Olympics from the Paralympics, which serves individuals with physical disabilities. The International Olympic Committee recognizes Special Olympics and Paralympics as two separate and distinct sports organizations that meet the needs of two separate communities of athletes.

It is also easy to see why people might think of Special Olympics as an event, as it is often an event that captures the public’s attention. Special Olympics does, in fact, have a lot of events and competitions, from the grassroots level to the world stage. However, Special Olympics BC programs involve more than just one sport or annual event: they include sport training activities, social experiences, competitions, health screenings, and celebration events. In 55 communities throughout BC, weekly sport training programs and competition are offered in up to 18 different summer and winter sports.

RELATED: Vernon’s Special Olympics BC Winter Games will be biggest ever

RELATED: Online volunteer registration open for Vernon Special Olympics

As for Special Olympics being just for “kids”, there are young children involved. In fact, Special Olympics designed a program called Active Start to engage children as young as two years of age in activities focused on motor movement. But the Special Olympics program is not just for kids. The oldest person currently participating in Special Olympics BC programs is over 90 years of age. People with intellectual disabilities of all ages and ability levels can benefit from the life-changing opportunities offered through Special Olympics.

From Feb. 21 through 23, 2019, Greater Vernon will host the 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games. Over 800 athletes and coaches will converge on the Greater Vernon area to showcase their skills and compete against others of similar ability. While this is an event, it is only one aspect of the Special Olympics organization.

To earn the right to compete in these Games, athletes with intellectual disabilities have trained hard in weekly sport training programs offered by Special Olympics in their home community. They then competed and qualified in regional winter competitions, and have continued training in their sport for the year leading up to the Games in Vernon. Similarly, the Games in Greater Vernon will act as a qualifier for the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay in February 2020. The Games in Vernon will act as the culmination of years of hard work for those who will compete in the 2019 Winter Games.

Special Olympics is not the Paralympics, they are not just an event, and they are not just for “kids.” They are inspiring, fun, and life-changing. Get involved and experience what others already know to be an unbelievable opportunity. Volunteer or donate to the 2019 Special Olympics BC Winter Games.

Visit www.sobcgamesvernon.ca for information on how you can get involved, or to learn more about the Games.

To report a typo, email: newstips@vernonmorningstar.com.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Special Olympics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chris Marchand
Survivors spread reconciliation with Vernon’s cultural partners

Cultural Safety Program facilitated by Syilx elders

(Submitted by Cassidi Markus)
Snow flurries forecasted for the Okanagan this weekend

Arctic front expected to bring colder than average temperatures and snow

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

The District of Lake Country closed down the controversial Airport Inn Lakeside motel in 2019. (Daniel Taylor - Black Press file)
Asking price for controversial Airport Inn in Lake Country dropped to $6.9M

‘Lake Country is too precious a place to not have something great there,’ Realtor says

Vernon’s Okanagan Spring Brewery rolled out its first product – Premium Lager – 35 years ago on Oct. 19, 1985. (Google Maps)
Cheers to Vernon’s Okanagan Spring Brewery

Company produced first brew 35 years ago on Oct. 19, 1985

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna man charged after allegedly stealing senior’s car

Elderly woman’s car was stolen while she was shopping

Salmon Arm RCMP say residents have been receiving calls from fraudster claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP warn of Publishers Clearing House telephone scam

Police say scammer requests fee to claim sweepstakes prizes

Osoyoos Fire Department responded to reports of a vehicle engulfed in flames Sunday (Oct. 18) evening at a Lambert Court residence. (Osoyoos Fire Department)
Osoyoos Fire Department knock down car fire near home

Blaze was ‘really close’ to becoming a structure fire

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

A file photo of an RCMP dog. (Campbell River RCMP photo)
Lawsuit claims Kelowna man suffered ‘vicious’ attack by RCMP dog, handler

Fernando Verde claims he was resuscitated at the hospital and needed emergency surgery following the attack

Most Read