Special Olympic Events Are Changing Lives

Published Tuesday, January 17, 2006

At the age of nineteen Kelly Hart became involved in sports through the Special Olympics program in Coquitlam. More than twenty years later Kelly remains committed to training and competing in sports, now as an integral member of the Ridge Meadows Special Olympics team.

The BC Special Olympics sports program provides quality sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities in forty-nine communities across BC. The Ridge Meadows Special Olympics program offers six sports: aquatics, bowling (five and ten pin), softball, soccer, floor hockey, and their newest addition, curling. With over 3,500 athletes across B.C. there are many opportunities for competition at local, provincial, national, and international levels.

Kelly has trained in over eight sports and is proud to have competed at the National level in Track and Field.

The Ridge Meadows Special Olympics’ motto is “To provide individuals with a intellectual disability the opportunity to enhance their life and celebrate personal achievement through positive sport experiences.”

Kelly is the embodiment of this motto. Kelly continually achieves new successes as she tries various sports, and competes in the different levels of competition.

Two yeas ago, while learning a new jump in figure skating, Kelly injured her hip. This injury has since developed into arthritis which limits the sports in which she is able to participate. Kelly now concentrates on swimming and bowling (10 pin).

Kelly demonstrates the true spirit of an athlete. Since she is unable to continue with certain sports she trains to excel at others. Swimming is Kelly’s first love and she is happy to practice every week in anticipation of competitions in the Lower Mainland. Swimming not only satisfies Kelly’s competitive spirit and her enjoyment of socializing, but it helps with her hip injury as well. “I like swimming because I get to be with other athletes and learn new skills, and it’s good exercise.”

Kelly is currently training for a swim meet on February 5th in Surrey. She continues to challenge herself by training with new methods of competition. This upcoming swim meet will be the first at which Kelly will dive from a platform to enter the pool at the beginning of the race. She has been training for months to learn the skill of diving, in the hopes of achieving a faster start time. In addition to her individual races Kelly will be competing in the relay race and hopes that her hard work with diving will help her team’s overall time.

Kelly will also be competing in the 50 metre race for the first time. While she has previously concentrated on the 25 metre race (one length of the pool) Kelly now looks forward to challenging herself to swim in a more paced style rather than the sprint mode used for the shorter distance.

Kelly is enthusiastic about her love of sports and is happy to be involved in the local program. The swimming that she trains and competes in feeds her love of competition and motivates her to improve on past performances. Kelly’s commitment to personal achievement, despite setbacks such as her injury, personifies the spirit of those involved with the Special Olympics.

With over seventy athletes currently involved in the Ridge Meadows Special Olympics sports program volunteers are needed to help the program continue to thrive. The athletes participate at many different levels, some concentrate on skill development while others are highly competitive. As with the athletes, volunteers of all skills are necessary to make the program a success.

For more information about the Ridge Meadows program visit their web site at www.pbsco.com/bcso or e-mail them at bcso@pbsco.com. For more information about BC Special Olympics visit http://www.specialolympics.bc.ca/