Special Olympics Vermont
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16 Gregory Drive South Burlington VT 05403 USA
Special olympics vermont's (sovt) mission is to provide year-round
Special olympics vermont ("sovt") is part of a global movement that works year round to foster inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities by using the power of sport to showcase their gifts and abilities. Our movement is inspired daily by the achievements of our athletes on and off the playing field. Project unify uses sports and education to activate youth to serve as agents of change, fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Students with and without disabilities train, compete, work and socialize together to build inclusive school communities. Students, educators, administrators and families recognize the impact of offering inclusive opportunities for those with and without disabilities, and value the respect for others and increased self-confidence demonstrated by students who participate. * student participation in school unified sports programs experienced a 24% increase by the end of the 2014 school year. * a state-wide youth activation committee was launched. The yac is a group of students with and without intellectual disabilities who work together to educate, motivate, and activate youth to become agents of change in their communities and advocate for respect, inclusion, and acceptance of all people, regardless of ability. * an education leaders network is being developed to collaborate with special olympics staff and constituents about education- related opportunities and issues. This group will help advance the important work of creating safe, inclusive, effective, and engaging school environments where all students can succeed. * special olympics, inc. Approved 6 "so colleges" throughout vermont. To provide quality programming, sovt invested in additional training and increased resources for volunteers, including program coordinators and coaches. * 160 stakeholders attended a state-wide sovt conference for training in youth leadership, law enforcement partnership, program and volunteer management, finance, fundraising, athlete leadership and sports specific coaching. * implemented phase one of an accreditation plan to provide consistent training, processes and support for state-wide activities at the program level. * in addition to two continuous on-line coaches training opportunities, sovt offered eleven state-wide and regional sports specific coach certification courses. In june, special olympics vermont sent 49 people to the 2014 special olympics usa games in princeton, new jersey. Team vermont included 25 athletes, 10 unified partners, 11 coaches and team management and 2 students and 1 educator for the national youth summit. This was a new experience for 91% of team vermont athletes and partners as preference was given to qualified competitors who have not had the opportunity to experience a usa or world games competition. Team vermont competed in athletics (track and field), aquatics, basketball, bocce and bowling. Team vermont returned with 43 medals and ribbons, plus countless life-changing stories of pride, friendship, and joy! To raise awareness for our mission, sovt has worked to broaden our reach by establishing partnerships with organizations and events throughout the state. These partnerships help showcase the athletic abilities, skills and community mindedness of people with intellectual disabilities. Several successful collaborations in 2014 include: * "bring a champion to work day" introduced in celebration of eunice kennedy shriver day - four athletes visited five area businesses to interact with employees to promote acceptance in the workplace. * a young athletes partnership with burton snowboards resulted in an open house event for children aged 2-7 with and without disabilities to experience a "riglet park" activity to introduce children to the sport of snowboarding. The healthy athletes program provides health screenings to athletes during summer games. This program has several goals which include: educating athletes about healthy lifestyles, improving access of care for those with disabilities, making referrals for follow-up care, training healthcare professionals and advocating for improved health programs for those with intellectual disabilities. In 2014, we performed 360 screenings: * 188 dental and oral health in special smiles * 58 flexibility, functional strength, aerobic capacity and balance in fun fitness * 114 nutrition, physical fitness and wellness in health promotion * the uvm college of medicine partnered with sovt to research and develop a year-round nutrition and fitness plan for athletes, which resulted in a detailed report outlining barriers to and opportunities for athletes to eat healthier and exercise regularly. In the 2015/2016 academic year, students will continue the project and produce a guideline for distribution to athletes and coaches. The athlete leadership program provides training and support for athletes who desire to expand their participation in special olympics both on and off the competition field. Through alp's, athletes receive training and have opportunities to hold positions of leadership and influence. In 2014, five athletes participated in an alp's global messenger (public speaking and self-confidence) training program, and sovt made a priority to offer speaking opportunities and other leadership roles to these athletes across the state.
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