Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Special Olympics Minnesota: Athlete Leadership Programs

When he was in High School #1 participated in both adapted and mainstream school (ex: Mountain Biking) and community (ex. Minnesota Special Hockey) sports. His coaches have been some of the most important people in his life; what High School skills he’s developed came as much from his sports work as school work.

Even in his High School years, however, recreational sports were becoming more challenging. His teammates turned into young adults — a somewhat difficult population for a young man with a significant cognitive disability.

He’s in “transition” now (more to come on that I’m sure) and he’s almost 19. After a successful experiences with golf (state champ his div) and tennis (state champ his div) he’s doing more with special olympics. Most significantly, he’s developing personal relationships with other athletes, including role models who’ve taken on leadership positions in special olympics.

Which leads to our next project — engaging him in Special Olympics Athlete Leadership through Minnesota’s Athlete Leadership Programs. This won’t necessarily be easy — he has only recently shown an interest in helping other people and it’s still limited [1]. I’ll have more to say if he’s able to do the December program. If not I think special olympics will be very helpful for him as an athlete participant, particularly because of the role models who’ve completed these programs.

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[1] People with Downs Syndrome generally have more agreeable and pleasant temperaments than people with Autism — speaking as a father with much experience with the latter. Special Olympics used to be predominantly Downs Syndrome, but selective abortion is making Downs much less common. I am sure that is having many impacts on the organization.

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