A young Estevan athlete is going to be in the spotlight throughout April, thanks to an initiative involving Sobeys and Special Olympics.
Emily Meili, age six, will be featured at the Sobeys in Estevan and elsewhere in the province in April, and in advertising for her efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle.
The promotion will discuss how she is staying healthy and active at home; the Active Start program for children with an intellectual disability who are ages two to six; what she loves and misses about Special Olympics; and how her involvement in the Special Olympics, and sports in general, has changed her life.
Her parents, Conrad and Kandyce Meili, said Special Olympics Saskatchewan sent a request to Special Olympics Estevan, looking for some athletes to submit information for this opportunity.
“We submitted a few athletes, and they chose Emily,” said Kandyce.
Since COVID-19 came to Saskatchewan a year ago, she has been eating lots of fruits and vegetables, playing outside with her brother and sister, and participating in dance parties.
“We turn on Mini Pops dance parties on YouTube, and her and her brother and sister dance to them on YouTube,” said Kandyce.
The videos of the sibling dance parties have been sent to family and friends, and they loved the footage.
Her parents believe it has been very important for her to stay active during the past year.
“Kids with limited mobility definitely have a harder time with weight challenges and activity level, so for her to continue on being active, for her health, has been good,” said Kandyce.
The Active Start program has helped her become more confident in her skills and develop her skills such as running, jumping and throwing. And she gets to spend time around other kids in Special Olympics.
Her favourite sports are anything with activity. She loves dancing and the obstacle courses set up at Special Olympics, and playing What time is it Mr. Wolf, which is a game for kids.
“She’s been involved in soccer and really enjoyed it, and baseball is another one that she really likes,” said Kandyce.
Once she sees her profile in the Sobeys store in Estevan, Kandyce expects it will sink in with Emily how special this is, but she’s excited to have this opportunity.
“It’s a bit of a culmination for Special Olympics in general, in the scope of how long Special Olympics has been around versus how long youth activities have been around,” said Conrad. “It’s nice to have some provincial recognition on a bit of a larger scale, and just how big the movement has been in Estevan, compared to other places.
“We’ve had a lot of athletes, we’ve had a lot of turnout, we’ve got a lot of great volunteers. We’ve had community support. These things are all locally acknowledged readily.”
Getting an athlete locally selected means a lot as far as reinforcing how important it is for kids to start early with being active.
Special Olympics has worked with Sobeys to develop a nutrition guide, interactive programming and lesson plans created by registered dieticians, which has been activated in several markets, working directly with Special Olympics athletes and their families to activate virtual programming options.