A couple of programs offered through Special Olympics will be coming to Estevan in the new year.
Special Olympics Active Start and FUNdamentals programs are starting in Estevan on Jan. 4. Active Starts is for children ages two to six, while FUNdamentls is for those seven to 12.
Both will be offered for 11 weeks for children with disabilities from Jan. 11-March 22.
Active Start will run Fridays from 5:45-6:15 p.m., and is a family-centred program targeting children with intellectual disabilities. Children learn basic motor skills such as walking, running, jumping and throwing in a fun and safe environment.
Skills developed through Active Start include physical skill acquisition, physical fitness, social skill development, decision-making, knowledge, understanding and appreciation of physical activity.
Fundamentals will be Fridays from 6:30-7:15. A continuation of Active Start, it transitions to basic sports skills while maintaining an atmosphere of fun and meaningful interaction. It also promotes specific sports education and social inclusion through participating in positive experiences.
Skills developed are development of physical literacy, skills, improved fundamental motor skills, participation in a structured physical activity and increased understanding of a game structure.
“There’s been a lot of interest since we first said we were in the process of doing this. A lot of people are excited to have this for their kids, and we’re excited for the benefits for the kids, and really for the parents as far as creating a community of people that they normally wouldn’t have met.”
Pre-registration was held at the city-wide registration in October, and about 20 kids signed up at that point. The camp will be held Jan. 4 for those who aren’t sure as of yet whether they want their kids to participate.
Thanks to the support of a start-up donation, there won’t be a fee for children to participate this time.
People will be register after the first session on Jan. 11.
“If people are finding out about it halfway through or anything like that, they’re still welcome to join,” said Meili.
A coaches training session was held Dec. 16 in Estevan. Seven volunteer coaches were trained by Chris Hamilton, Youth Coordinator for Special Olympics Saskatchewan in Regina.
“It was a lot of fun, and we learned a lot about working with kids with special needs and how to run the programs and how to be able to adjust when things are inevitably different than the book tells you they are,” she said.
He taught the local coaches so that when they work with kids, they’re fully trained.
People have to be trained in order to lead the athletes. Normally the training is held in Regina, but Meili said they were fortunate to have the co-ordinator come to Estevan for the training.
Future sessions will likely be held in Regina.
Mieli said that her and her husband have two daughters with rare genetic conditions, and they noticed activities for children with special needs were something that Estevan was lacking, and they could help provide.
The two girls have not been through the programs, and the Meilis do not have experience with the program, so they’re looking forward to seeing what they’re like.