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Special Olympics Oregon
Inspire greatness. No other maxim could be more fitting for Special Olympics Oregon, an organization that, at every level, flourishes or fails on its ability to empower individuals. It applies, of course, to the remarkable athletes who, by their very greatness, inspire the staff, board, and volunteers, and extends to excite the community as a whole.
Here in Oregon, while Special Olympics Oregon serves close to 7,000 participants throughout the state, nearly 70,000 people with intellectual disabilities could benefit from participating in Special Olympics. Still growing, Special Olympics Oregon is efficiently expanding programs to get closer and closer to serving every individual with intellectual disabilities that qualifies to participate in Special Olympics.
The mission of Special Olympics Oregon is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.
Special Olympics Oregon offers training and competition opportunities in 15 different Olympic-style sports. There are three sports seasons throughout the year, with statewide competitions and training in winter, summer and fall.
Special Olympics Oregon holds events in every region of the state, every month of the year, providing athletes the opportunity to be competing and training all as often as they choose.
Special Olympics athletes train intensely for eight weeks prior to each State Games event. Volunteer coaches are responsible for training the athletes. Volunteers must complete a certification program prior to becoming Special Olympics coaches and must attend training schools before each season.
Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organizationincorporated in the state of Oregon to provide sports training and athletic competition for persons with mental disabilities. SOOR is accredited by Special Olympics, Inc. (SOI) and responsible for following the policies and rules established by SOI in the delivery of services in Oregon. It is known as a Program of SOI. A volunteer Board of Directors provides policy decisions and long-range planning for SOOR. The Board employs a staff of people to implement the day-to-day operations.
A Local Program (LP) consists of a local group of individuals with mental disabilities who wish to train and compete in Special Olympics and a Local Program Coordinator (LPC) willing to organize safe, quality training for these athletes. The LPC oversees all aspects of the LP including training, competition, fund raising, public relations, family involvement, financial responsibilities and administration.
Special Olympics Volunteer Oath: I promise to give of the time in my life so that Special Olympics athletes can have the time of their lives. I promise to support Special Olympics not just as an expression of charity, but as a form of respect for my fellow human beings. I promise to spread the word of volunteerism because, in giving, I receive so much more in return.
EMPOWERING ATHLETES THROUGH SPORTConfidence, skill and determination are common benefits of involvement with sports. Sometimes, athletes can even get a little boastful - like marathon runner and former Special Olympics athlete Billy Quick: "You might be able to out-read me, but I can out-run you!"
A Leader Made in Special Olympics. Loretta Claiborne's life changed dramatically after she became a Special Olympics athlete and found her talents for running and public speaking.Did You Know?
- Employment is a challenge for people with disabilities, but Special Olympics athletes are employed at a much higher rate than others with intellectual disabilities outside the organization.
- While misperceptions about intellectual disability are common, the more exposure someone has to Special Olympics, the more realistic their outlook becomes.
- In China, public attitudes towards people with intellectual disability improved significantly after the country hosted a World Games. The percentage of youth who said people with intellectual disability were capable of physical activity, for example, increased from 70% to 88%.
For people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics can be the only place where they have an opportunity to participate in their communities and develop belief in themselves. Many live lives of neglect and isolation, hidden away or socially excluded from full participation in schools or society. For athletes, Special Olympics sports provide a gateway to empowerment, competence, acceptance and joy.
A Runner's Inspiring Story
Athlete Loretta Claiborne’s story may be one of the most inspiring. As a young person, she was told she was destined for an institution. After discovering Special Olympics, Loretta became a long-distance runner ... and she hasn’t stopped since. Over her career, she competed in 25 marathons - twice finishing in the top 100 women runners in the Boston Marathon. The Women in Sports Hall of Fame inducted her as a member, and Runner's World magazine named her Special Athlete of the Quarter Century. Loretta speaks four languages and holds honorary doctorate degrees - the first person with intellectual disabilities known to receive such honors. Her life was the basis for Disney film, "The Loretta Claiborne Story". In 1996, she received the coveted Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
Finding a Voice
Not all Special Olympics athletes are like Billy and Loretta, but each one takes away from the experience a sense of accomplishment and the joy of friendship. The lessons learned in Special Olympics also improve life skills. Many people are surprised to know that more than half (52 percent) of adult Special Olympics athletes in the United States are employed, half of those in competitive employment. Special Olympics provides every person with intellectual disabilities a place of welcome, acceptance and the chance to be their best.
The Key is Opportunity
None of these things happens without having the opportunity to try. In many countries, people with intellectual disabilities are confronted with the prejudiced view that they cannot do much. That's where Special Olympics's focus on individual strengths and encouragement to always try harder plays a role.
With achievement comes confidence. With confidence comes courage. Sometimes it's the courage to say no. Sometimes it's the courage to say yes. Sometimes it's the courage to simply do something new.
There are so many ways to help. Whether you want to volunteer by being a coach, help make events run smoothly, take and share photos or donate money is up to you. Give yourself an opportunity to meet new people, learn new things and support an organization with a worldwide ambition to improve lives.
- Aaron Brockey
- (541) 850-5257
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