Team Nova Scotia–All the way to St. Albert in 2012

March 30, 2012 at 12:36 am Leave a comment

After  learning about Special Olympics some years ago,  I volunteered at an event in Kitchener, Ontario, and have since become more aware of the opportunities available to the “special athletes” who take part. Knowing someone who took part in the events helped me understand a little more about the training and goals of the organization.

In January 2012, as I was researching for a post on the organization, I asked my friend Maryann about the beginnings of the organization. She had become involved with training the athletes when her daughter Jenn was participating. I asked, “Who started it?”

“A man named Frank Hayden,” she answered. “He attended the Olympics event in St. Albert, and the athletes were very excited to meet him.”

Doctor Frank Hayden

Dr.  Hayden, of Burlington, Ontario, is a sports scientist who discovered, through his work at the Beverly School in 1961,  in Toronto, that the level of unfitness of students who attended that school was due to their lifestyle and not their intellectual disability.  Adding vigorous sports in their school in a focused program proved his point.

He wanted to develop a program to engage these individuals but was called away by the Kennedy Foundation and Eunice Kennedy Schriver to help set up an event in Chicago. He lived and worked there for seven years helping them to develop the program, and when he returned to Canada, put his ideas into practice here.  Since then, his idea has taken root in 170 countries around the world.

Award-worthy Program

Dr. Frank Hayden was among 27 appointees to  receive the Order of Ontario in January 2012 for his work with intellectually challenged young people and adults.

From Newsroom:

“The Order of Ontario is the highest provincial honour bestowed on an individual. With it, we recognize the greatest minds, forward-thinkers, humanitarians, activists and pioneers in our province. These people change lives here and the world over.”

– The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario

Hear Dr. Hayden talk about the program here.

Special Olympics Lunenburg Queens

Maryann and John’s daughter, Jenn, became involved upon their move to Nova Scotia.  Special Olympics has a high profile there with much support from the community. Jenn and other young adults have participated in a variety of sports. Both her parents have become involved,  Maryann as a coach, and named Female Coach of the Year in 2010; and her father, John, as a member of the mission staff. Both parents had the opportunity to be in St. Albert for the Olympics.

In 2004, Jenn participated in the Olympics in PEI, Canada. She proudly carried their flag and then went on to earn a medal in floor hockey. In 2008, she added to her medals in the sport of snowshoeing. In 2012, she was named Female Athlete of the Year for her involvement in sports. Another member of the  Team Nova Scotia, Jamie Belong, was the first to receive the Doctor Frank Hayden award. Read here for more news on the award.

Having qualified for the nationals in the snowshoeing events, Jenn went to St. Albert to compete and came home with three medals.  In fact the whole Nova Scotia team did well, earning top places.  Congratulations to all members of the team and the medallists!

In the following photos, the Nova Scotia team wears blue jackets and blue striped hats, except for Jenn who wears a red jacket in two photos. A family member took these photos, and I am grateful for permission to use some of them.

Team Nova Scotia took silver in the relay event.

Jenn (middle on the podium) took gold in the 200-metre snowshoeing event, and she also came home with three other medals. She took gold in the 200- and 400-metre snowshoeing events and bronze in the 100-metre race, then silver in the 4×100 relay.

They are truly an inspiration!

To learn more about the Special Olympics, see their fall newsletter.


Entry filed under: exercise, lifestyle, Olympics, Sports. Tags: , , .

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