A brand new year- what we're looking forward to in 2021
I do hope you are well and rested after the holiday period. Whilst the New Year has gotten off to a rocky start, there is real hope that 2021 will be better than last year with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines across both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
At this time, all Special Olympics Ireland clubs are closed due to restrictions. We continue to monitor the situation, taking our advice from the governing authorities in both jurisdictions.
Whilst our clubs may be physically closed, we continue to work on providing online support and will be calling on all of our clubs to continue supporting athletes by also having a virtual presence. Our Can’t Stop Now campaign provides a wealth of support materials under the umbrellas of Clubs, Health Promotion, Coaching and Officials Development, Young Athletes, Strong Minds and a series of virtual challenges and competitions, which you can read more about below.
Mental health and well-being is so important; I encourage you to take a few moments to look through our Strong Minds resources. Here you will find tips on how to get eight hours’ quality sleep each night as well as practical activities to better manage mental health.
We are especially grateful to Sport Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland and The Community Foundation of Ireland for financially supporting us to adapt to our new digital environment with grants towards IT infrastructure, content and training.
Our volunteers continue to prove that they “Can’t Stop Now” either so it’s fantastic to see two of our volunteers receiving awards in the Federation of Irish Sports’ Volunteer in Sport Awards. Just last month another two of our volunteers were recognised in the Volunteer Ireland Awards and the Sport Northern Ireland SportMaker awards. We know there are many more inspiring volunteers out there who continue to work tirelessly on our behalf, thank you.
Looking to the year ahead, we have made many ambitious yet realistic plans, which are centred on supporting our athletes, volunteers and clubs.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay in touch through all the usual channels, which can be found here.
CEO, Special Olympics Ireland
Our COVID-19 resources page hosts some useful information adapted from trusted sources into easy read format, which you can check out here
SPECIAL OLYMPICS VOLUNTEERS HONOURED AT 2020 FEDERATION OF IRISH SPORT VOLUNTEERS IN SPORT AWARDS
The Volunteers in Sport Awards were created to champion the contribution, commitment and dedication of the army of 450,000 volunteers across the country who go above and beyond by giving their time to Irish sport and physical activity each year.
We are so proud that two of our longstanding volunteers, Pauline Nugent of Special Olympics Munster and Veronica Murray of Special Olympics Connaught were honoured at these prestigious awards.
Our Can’t Stop Now Campaign has never been more relevant or important so this year we are focusing on staying mentally and physically fit as well as staying connected and we want you to join us.
Here’s a little explainer on each section. We’ve got something for everyone.
Due to the huge success of SO Let’s Run and our collaboration with Special Olympics Switzerland, we are delighted to announce that we will be launching a new suite of virtual competitions on January 29th.
Competitions will be offered in Gymnastics, Athletics, Football and a Motor Activities Traning Porgramme (MATP) challenge event and that is just for starters! While Gymnastics and MATP are niche events, Athletics and Football are aimed at all athletes in the Special Olympics programme, so we need your help in encouraging athletes to get involved. With all clubs joining in, it will help all to stay connected, focused and enable our most important stakeholders, our athletes to say fit and active and engaged with each other.
Full details will be released on our website and social media channels on January 29th.
Together as Virtual Clubs:
Looking for ways to keep your club engaged? In this section, we have everything from how to use Zoom effectively to Athlete Leadership workshops that you can do online.
Did you know that the full Health Promotion workshop is now online? This is a great time to do all those things you never have time to do. This workshop will provide your athletes with invaluable tools and education around all aspects of their health.
Coach and Officials Development
Session plans, video resources, and formal education opportunities are all waiting for you here.
Young Athletes' programme
Our easy to follow flashcards can be used at home to keep our Young Athletes engaged and active whilst at home. All of our Young Athletes should have received their flashcards in the post. Why not run through them with parents or siblings and help build their confidence to create their own Young Athlete sessions at home. Still to come will be some virtual sessions to support the resource cards.
Strong Minds is an interactive learning activity focused on helping athletes to develop and learn adaptive coping skills. Healthy sleeping tips, Yoga stretches and Tai Chi methods are just some of the valuable resources you will find here.
News from around the regions
Across the country, our clubs and athletes embraced the virtual world for the last time in 2020 with many hosting online Christmas parties.
We have it on good authority that Santa took some time out of his busy schedule to pay Tuam Headford Special Olympics Club socially distanced visit and he even dropped in on Navan Arch’s Christmas quiz.
Tuam South Galway on the other hand proved that COVID-19 wasn’t going to take away their chance to right owl hooley as their athlete choir belted out the tunes to close off their online festive Christmas jumper party.