The Special Olympics Movement
The Special Olympics Movement is the ‘third arm’ of the Olympics organisation, along with the Olympics and Paralympics, and is dedicated to enhancing the lives of those with an Intellectual (Learning) Disability through training and competition in numerous sporting disciplines, in both summer and winter sports.
Plymouth & District
Special Olympics Plymouth & District (SOPD) is a Branch of Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB) and provides sports opportunities. The Club was founded in 2010 after Special Olympic Indoor Bowls Athlete David Stockdale had difficulty in obtaining a place to compete in the Leicester 2009 National Games; this was due to there being no Special Olympics Club in Plymouth or Devon. Once his place was secured he was accompanied by his parents Alan and Maureen and competed in the games and they returned home determined that people with an Intellectual (Learning) Disability living in Plymouth and the surrounding area would have the opportunity of participating in Sport and train towards being able to enter Competition.
Why is this Important?
There are many reasons why this sports club is so important and some are detailed below:
There are insufficient community sport and physical activity opportunities at a local level to accommodate people with an Intellectual (Learning) Disability. Evidence shows that many clubs do not understand how to provide for people with an Intellectual (Learning) Disability appropriately, are often ‘scared’ or ‘uncomfortable’ because they do not understand the condition, and there are few sources of help and assistance. Coaching courses rarely cover the issues associated with intellectual (learning) disability whilst many generic disability awareness courses give little more than a passing mention. Many recognized coaching courses omit the subject entirely
Intellectual (Learning) Disability causes many associated additional barriers – low incomes for example or a reliance on support/carer/parents to provide transport and advocacy
Intellectual (Learning) Disability does not benefit from the same levels of media exposure and lacks positive role models
It is often harder to get information about sport to people with an Intellectual (Learning) Disability in a format/medium that will be easily understood. Many young people with an intellectual (learning) disability will experience sport at school but due to a lack of sustained investment and support, poorly developed schools/club links and limited knowledge on providing appropriate opportunities, most will drop out of sport and fail to undertake meaningful physical activity in adult life
People with an Intellectual (Learning) Disability tend to have higher rates of obesity and the many problems associated with inactivity
Many fail to develop the social circles and friendships through sport that non-disabled people may take for granted
People with an Intellectual (Learning) Disability can often remain ‘excluded’ and isolated from society