When a pandemic strikes, you get creative! As the World, Country and Island were shutting down, Special Olympics PEI quickly realized that we needed to get creative to help athletes Stay Active and Social.
"For some of our athletes isolation can be an everyday reality, their weekly SOPEI program may be their only interaction outside of the group home setting or an opportunity to connect with their friends." said Program Director, Matthew McNally.
"We needed to find a way to offer our programs in a new format that would give our community a chance to stay connected, provide training opportunities to our coaches and volunteers, fitness, nutrition, and health information along with social interaction to help combat the isolation of physical distancing throughout this pandemic."
Before COVID-19 hit, Special Olympics PEI was working to set up a new Facebook group for members, allowing the main Facebook page to offer more general information for its followers.. The goal of the newly created group was to offer more member specific information for athletes, coaches, volunteers, families and caregivers, such as program cancellations, professional development opportunities, competition information, and so on.
The new reality of the pandemic sped up the implementation of the group and changed how Special Olympics PEI would offer programs for the coming months. The new Facebook group became a Virtual Programming platform.
Special Olympics PEI is aware that some athletes would not have access to this tool. Working with community partners, PEI LETR, Motionball PEI and volunteers to reach-out via phone, in person and mail to help them Stay Active and Social.
Virtual Programming Recap
The first 9 Weeks (March 23 - May 23, 2020)
While Special Olympics may be centered around sport, there is so much more to it than just sport. One of the common reasons athletes participate in sport is for its inherent social aspects, and if you’ve ever been involved with Special Olympics you know it is no different for these social athletes. With a number of amazing partners on board supporting SOPEI, and knowing that athletes and members would not only be missing the physical components of sport but also the social aspects, Special Olympics PEI began creating weekly virtual programming calendars with the theme of “Staying Active and Social at Home.”
This is just a brief recap of some of the great things happening and that will continue to happen in this virtual community! We invite you to check out the SOPEI Athletes & Volunteers -Connecting Virtually group.
- Updates on COVID-19 and cancelations
- Weekly Staying Active and Social at Home calendar
- Dr. Joanne Reid, Medfest Clinical Director, Weekly Challenges for Athletes
- Heidi Mallet, CALC representative shared Fit 5 Resources
- Weekly workouts from Synergy Fitness & Nutrition and Crossfit 782
- Thank you to essential workers compiled for main page
- Weekly mental skills sessions from Ahead in the Game
- Zoom meetings with coaches and volunteers
- Coaches hosting weekly zoom practices
- National Volunteer Week celebrations
- Virtual game of tag
- Virtual High 5’s
- Provincial Bowling Championships
- Weekly Live Workout from performance program partner, Synergy Fitness and Nutrition
- Additional Workout Challenges from partner Crossfit 782
- FUNfitness Clinical Director, Hayley, sharing “How To” Stretching and Balance Videos for athletes to continue to develop healthy habits and routines at home
- Sharing other SO specific workout resources and live workouts
- School of Strength
- Fit 5
- Anytime Fitness
- Partnered with Ahead in the Game to provide weekly mental skills training for 6 weeks
- Covered Strong Minds strategies and the Take 5 for Strong Minds Calendar/Activities
Providing healthy recipes and healthy living tips
- Apple Nacho and Energy Bites Recipes
- Sharing resources from the Fit 5 Guide on Nutrition and Hydration
- Hosted a webinar on the newly launched Athlete Leadership Academy to educate athlete on the Academy before the first round of applications were due
- Accepted first round of Academy applications.
- Set to begin first virtual ALP’s course and SOPEI’s first ever Health Messenger workshop at the end of the month (May)
- Various Athlete Leaders have shared messages to their fellow athletes
- Athlete Leadership Academy Webinar did well, athletes were very engaged and wanting to learn more about the Academy
Athlete Social Hour
- Provided athletes an opportunity to connect virtually via Zoom, allowing athletes to interact “face-to-face” and in real time
- This activity was a huge hit, athletes really enjoyed the opportunity to see each other and have the social interact with one another. We plan to continue these sessions and hope to grow the number of athletes in attendance
- Three sport programs are currently utilizing Zoom for virtual practices, these are hosted by a program coach, providing the athletes with an opportunity to interact virtually with their peers from program
- Various Activities to Engage Athletes in the Group and Promote Virtual Social Interactions
- Theme Days: i.e. Country, and Canadian
- Virtual High 5, This or That, Word Search, Crossword, & Bingo
Activities from Youth Multi-Sport Coach Kieran
Coach Kieran provides activities for youth athletes that are aimed at engaging young athletes and a wide range of developmental levels – although athletes of all ages and abilities can participate. The goal is simply to keep young athletes moving.
Monthly Coach/Volunteer Updates
- Providing information and updates, professional development opportunities, and social connection to SOPEI coaches and program volunteers through Zoom
- National Volunteer Week
- Athletes shared stories and pictures about SOPEI coaches and volunteers, thanking them for their contributions to SOPEI, and volunteers shared “Why I Volunteer”
- Thank you to essential workers Post