2018 Utah Open Special Olympics Short Game Challenge 3

Participants in the 2018 Utah Open Special Olympics Short Game Challenge pose for a photo at Riverside Country Club on Aug. 13, 2018.

Even though Jan. 1 is only one day after Dec. 31, there is always such a feeling of having crossed a line full of new hope and perspective.

According to statista.com, in 2019, 59% of individuals making resolutions resolved to exercise more, 54% to eat healthier and 48% to lose weight.

Obviously this is not a surprise based on the increase of television ads for gym memberships, weight loss plans and diet foods. Since it is January, and many of us have also resolved to work on improving physically, this is a good time to include members of our disability community to do the same. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to shed light, once again, on the Special Olympics program.

As most people know, Special Olympics began as a backyard summer camp for people with intellectual disabilities in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in response to the needs of her sister and other children with intellectual disabilities who were unable to find any type of summer camp that would accommodate their needs.

“Enough” said Eunice Kennedy, and according to https://specialolympics.org/about/history/camp-shriver, “for Eunice Kennedy ‘enough’ has always meant ‘do something about it.’” For Shriver, “doing something about it” began with opening Camp Shriver with 34 children and 26 counselors and has continued to currently having more than 5.7 million athletes in 172 countries.

The Utah Special Olympics Chapter was incorporated in 1971 by Utahns for Utah’s citizens with intellectual disabilities (https://sout.org/about-us). “On average, 1,700 individuals with intellectual disabilities, and approximately 250 individuals without intellectual disabilities through Unified Sports, participate annually across Utah. Athletes can start at age two with Young Athletes, and begin competition at age eight. There is no upper age limit; the majority of athletes are ages 21 to 39, the current oldest athlete is 90.”

“Utah offers year-round sports training and competition. The year begins in January with snowshoeing, basketball in February and March, and then spring /summer sports of track and field, swimming and softball. Athletes practice in summer for the bowling tournaments in July and August, and then look to fall sports of soccer, bocce and golf.”

The Utah Special Olympics year will be starting off with 2020 Polar Plunge. “The Polar Plunge is a fun, team-building way for individuals, families, organizations and businesses to raise funds for Special Olympics Utah.” (sout.org)

This year, the events are scheduled on Jan. 11 at the North Ogden Aquatic Center and Jan. 25 at the Salt Lake Sheraton Downtown.

For anyone interested in getting involved in becoming an athlete or volunteer, this is a great place to begin the incredible journey.

Another, fun January event for those who love the outdoors is the 2020 Snowshoe Invitational being held at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center on Jan. 29. For any information about Special Olympics Utah, contact its office by phone 801-363-1111 or its website http://sout.org.

On the topic of New Year’s resolution, as I was writing this piece, I received my monthly newsletter from the Utah Parent Center. There was a great article included about how to help your child set New Year’s resolutions. The Utah Parent Center was founded in 1983 by parents of children and youth with all disabilities to help face challenges throughout the state. If you are a parent of a child or adolescent with disabilities and have not already done so, I recommend going to its site, http://utahparentcenter.org, and registering for its monthly newsletter.

Setting New Year’s resolutions is a rite of passage for many from one year to the next. Goran Persson, a Swedish politician said, “Let our New Year’s resolution be this: We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” The team at Special Olympics has been doing this since 1968, maybe now it a good time for us to join them.

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