With a message of inclusion, college program builds momentum for Particular Olympics

Anticipation is ramping up for the Particular Olympics Canada Winter Video games, which Calgary will host Feb. 27 to March 2

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The occasion remains to be 5 months away however anticipation is already ramping up for the 2024 Particular Olympics Canada Winter Video games, which Calgary is getting ready to host from Feb. 27 to March 2.

And the enthusiastic spirit of Particular Olympics Canada was on full show Wednesday throughout a launch for the Video games’ college program on the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex in Tsuut’ina Nation, simply west of Calgary metropolis limits.

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Greater than 1,000 college students in grades 4 to six from Calgary-area colleges flowed into the gymnasium of the Chief Jim Starlight Centre to listen to from Particular Olympics athletes, former and aspiring Olympians, sport ambassadors and others concerned with the upcoming Video games.

Cheryl Bernard, co-chair of the 2024 Video games and a former Olympic silver medallist in curling, mentioned the college program is a good way to construct momentum for the upcoming Video games amongst Calgary’s youth.

“That is actually who the Video games are for,” she advised reporters. “To have these children right here in particular person, it’s thrilling. I believe it simply reveals the worth of those Particular Olympic Video games, and the worth of selling inclusion in our province and our nation.”

By the Particular Olympics Canada Winter Video games Faculty Program, which is placed on by RBC, taking part colleges obtain an exercise e book and cheer equipment. Lecture rooms are inspired to finish the exercise e book collectively forward of time, after which cheer on the 1,300 athletes who will come to Calgary for the Video games this winter.

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One of many Video games’ mandates, in accordance with Bernard, can be to lift consciousness and schooling of mental disabilities. She argued the college program is a invaluable strategy to bolster a way of inclusion and acceptance amongst youth.

“I believe it’s so vital for all of us to see we’re all the identical and we should always all be included,” she mentioned. “We simply have completely different talents than others do. To have the ability to have them on the stage and present their energy, dedication and talents is an important factor, and why I stepped as much as co-chair.”

‘You are able to do something you set your thoughts to’

Highlights from Wednesday’s ceremony included a sneak-peek video about John (Jackie) Barrett, a powerlifter from Nova Scotia who received 13 gold and two silver medals over 4 appearances at Particular Olympics World Summer time Video games. Barrett, dubbed the Halifax Hercules, was the primary Particular Olympics athlete inducted into the Canada Sports activities Corridor of Fame — an honour he obtained in 2021.

Special Olympics Calgary
Practically 1,000 college students from throughout Calgary took half within the occasion at Tsuut’ina Nation. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Wednesday’s occasion additionally included a speech from Workforce Canada bobsled athlete Eden Wilson, who hopes to qualify for the 2026 Olympic Winter Video games. Born in Manitoba however raised in Calgary, the 26-year-old athlete shared the story of her profession in bobsled, which started whereas she was attending Mount Royal College.

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Now a member of the nationwide bobsled group, Wilson mentioned she relishes the chance to assist encourage the following era of athletes.

“It positively pulls on the heartstrings to have the ability to inform children, ‘You are able to do something you set your thoughts to,’ after which they arrive to you and say, ‘I’m so excited to have the ability to do that,’ ” she mentioned, a couple of minutes earlier than her speech.

As a biracial athlete (Wilson is each Métis and Black), Wilson mentioned she needed the youngsters to know that they’ll chase their goals no matter what adversity they face — a message she mentioned relates nicely to the spirit of Particular Olympics.

“As an athlete, it’s by no means going to be concerning the medals,” she mentioned. “It’s going to be about the concept that children can see somebody on the desk who appears like them, doing nice issues. Due to this fact, they suppose they’ll do nice issues as nicely.”

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