Who we are, what we do, and who we serve
Our local sport programs welcome athletes as young as 12,with no upper age limit. Athletes are welcome to participate in as many sports as desired. These programs provide athletes with far more than just the physical benefits of sport – Special Olympics changes lives. Brockville and Area draws from the Leeds and Grenville Township.
With the opportunities to excel and have fun come the benefits of improved health and self-image. For many athletes, participating in SOO – Brockville & Area is a path to healthy living, empowerment, acceptance and friendship. We are dedicated to increasing physical fitness, confidence, and other sport and life skills of our athletes; all in a positive and supportive environment.
Special Olympics is a charitable organization dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities through sport. It has been evolving since the early sixties when Dr. Frank Hayden, a sport scientist at the University of Toronto, was studying the effects of regular exercise on the fitness levels of children with an intellectual disability. His research caught the attention of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and became the foundation upon which the Special Olympics movement was founded in Chicago in 1968.
Today, Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, by promoting acceptance for all and fostering understanding and respect in communities across Canada and the world. Internationally, it has grown to over 5 million athletes and 1 million coaches and volunteers in 170 countries. Special Olympics Canada has chapters in every province with over 42,500 registered athletes and more than 20,500 registered volunteers.
Here in Brockville and Area there are about 80 athletes and 70 volunteers. Athletes can participate in one or all of about 10 sports programs (Basketball, Golf, Floor Hockey, Nordic Skiing, Softball, Swimming, Soccer, Track & Field, Indoor and Outdoor Bocce). These programs are run seasonally on a weekly basis by our dedicated coaches and volunteers.
With support from the Community and our fundraising efforts, we have been successful in keeping the athlete’s registration costs at $25 annually. This gives the athlete access to all sport programs. The only additional costs to our athletes is registration fees for optional conference sports events (example – Swim, Track and Field Meets, Soccer tournaments, etc.). Athlete’s registration fees for Provincial or National games, should they qualify, are also covered by our fundraising efforts.
Some of our successes
One way we measure our success is the fact that all of our athletes are active and involved in sports on a weekly basis. On average, our athletes participate in 2 or 3 sport programs over the year. Our athletes range in age from 12 to 67. Our goal is to have individuals “Active for Life” and socially involved with each other and the community as a whole. We experience examples of this all the time.
Our Floor Hockey Team attended the National Winter Games in St. Albert, Alberta in 2012 and again in Corner Brook, Newfoundland in February 2016. They came home with Medals on both occasions.
In 2013, we had 8 athletes attending the Provincial Summer Games in North York. Five of these athletes (2 bowlers and 3 Track & Field) were very successful and joined Team Ontario at the National Summer Games in Vancouver during 2014. Sandi, a Track and Field athlete, won Gold at those Games and joined Special Olympics Team Canada. Sandi attended the World Summer Games in Los Angeles in July 2015. She was the first athlete from Brockville and Area to attend Special Olympics World Games.
In 2015, our Curling Team and 1 Nordic skier attended the Provincial Winter Games in North Bay in February. Our Curling team came home with Bronze Metals. Our Nordic skier took Gold and qualified for National Winter Games in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, in 2016.
In May of 2016, our basketball team along with several other athletes (swimming and bowling) attended the Provincial Spring Games in Guelph.
In summer 2017, our Softball Team and 11 members of our Track and Field program attended the Provincial Summer Games in Peel Region. All of our Track and Field athletes came home with “Personal Bests” and Medals. Our Softball Team won Silver Medals in their division. As a result of the Spring and Summer Games, 7 of our athletes qualified for Team Ontario and attended the National Games in Nova Scotia in July 2018. At these games, three of our basketball players joined Arnprior for Team Ontario, did exceptionally well, moving up a division and ending with losing the Bronze medal game. Three track and field athletes clocked personal bests and each came home with a medal.
2019 was also notable here in Brockville as our bocce coaches organized and ran the highly successful First Combined School and Community Unified and Non-Unified Indoor Bocce Tournament for well more than 100 athletes from Eastern Ontario.
One ski athlete qualified for the 2020 national winter games. One basketball team and 6 swimmers qualified to attend the provincial Spring Games in 2020.
The 2020 winter games were held just before the COVID pandemic resulted in event postponements and our ski athlete came home with 3 medals and later learned he had qualified for the World Games. He will be our second Brockville athlete to attend World Games. These Games are now slated to be held in 2023.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of the provincial Spring Games of 2020 and there has been no notification yet of their reinstatement.
While we don’t keep exact records, we know that at least half of our athletes have qualified and participated in Provincial and National Games. Also, we have had numerous coaches volunteer their time and energy to attend Provincial and National Games along with our athletes over these years.