About Us

About Special Olympics Ontario Aurora Community

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Special Olympics Ontario is a charitable, non-profit organisation which provides year-round sport training for persons with intellectual disabilities. It is an organisation based on an idea developed by Dr. Frank Hayden, a Canadian physical education professor from London, Ontario whose research showed that persons with intellectual disabilities can and should participate in physical exercise. Moreover, he believed that the benefits of such activity would be seen in all areas of the athletes’ lives. And so, with the help of a local school that offered space in its gym, the first organised sport program (floor hockey) for intellectually disabled individuals became available in the fall of 1968.
Dr. Frank Hayden

But Dr. Hayden didn’t stop there as he truly believed that all persons with intellectual disabilities had the right to not only community sport programs but also to high quality coaching and advancing levels of competition. With no firm support from the Canadian or Ontario governments, he took his case to Washington, D.C, to the home of Rose Kennedy, who herself had a disabled daughter. It was with her financial assistance and the powerful influence of the Kennedy family, that the first Special Olympics (as the movement came to be called) event, featuring athletes from only Canada and the United States, took place at Soldier’s Field, Chicago, in 1969.

Back home in Canada, broadcaster and philanthropist, Harry “Red” Foster got the Special Olympics “bug” and started spreading the word about the benefits of sport training for persons with intellectual disabilities and it was his tireless efforts and persuasive recruitment of sponsors that led to the development of the Special Olympics Ontario organisation, mandated to recruit volunteers to run grass-roots sport training programs across the province. The organisation became incorporated in 1979.

Meanwhile, Dr. Hayden had secured the unanimous support of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and was well on his way to making Special Olympics programming across the continental United States, the rest of Canada and a few other countries around the world. Today, 120 countries from all around the world have Special Olympics programs.

THE GOAL

The primary objective of Special Olympics Ontario is to contribute to the physical, social and psychological development of people with intellectual disabilities through positive, successful experiences in sport. The focus of the Special Olympics movement is to promote sport programming for such individuals in their community. However, in keeping with the philosophy of sport training, the organization also promotes competition at higher levels. This is accomplished with the staging of Provincial Games (held every two years) and National and International Games (held every four years). Furthermore, the organization does not seek to restrict athletes to competition with other Special Olympians and in fact, promotes integration of its athletes into community based generic sports programs whenever possible.




SPECIAL OLYMPICS IN ONTARIO

 

Special Olympics Ontario (SOO) Special Olympics Ontario is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to providing year-round sports training and competition opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability. SOO is a volunteer driven organization with some 14000 athletes and 6000 volunteers registered across the province. Athletes range in age from eight to eighty. SOO is dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport and its primary instrument of program delivery is through community sports clubs.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS IN AURORA

As part of this international Special Olympics movement, Special Olympics Ontario - Aurora is committed to providing valuable training and competitive opportunities to our community.  In 2006, the Head Coach of Aurora Master Ducks Swim Club, wanted to "give back" to the community and recognized the need to provide sports activity for those individuals with an intellectual disability. Forming a swim club was a natural step.

Now many years since the creation of Aurora Special Ducks Swim Club, the Community now offers a total of four sports, where possible plans are to offer one new sport per year,
our continuing growth will only be limited by our enthusiasm. Current sports are:

Swimming - Aurora Special Ducks (started 2006)

Basketball - Aurora Dunks (started 2010)

Golf - Aurora Eagles (started 2011)

Softball - Grand Slams (started 2012)

Bocce  - Aurora Rollers  - Summer Out Door (started 2014)

Bocce - Aurora Rollers - Winter In Door (Started January 2015)



In order to offer these programs, numerous volunteers are needed in various capacities. Each club needs a Manager and Head Coach plus an array of volunteer coaches either working with small groups or individually (one on one). The Community programs in Aurora are proud to keep the athlete:coach ratios low, ensuring that we develop sport skills effectively. Experience is not necessary and training is offered. Special Olympics Ontario - Aurora seeks individuals who have some time, energy and heart to guide our special athletes.

For information on how to get involved CLICK HERE

 

Here you will find a fact sheet with information on the past and present of the Special Olympics and Teams within Aurora;


Fast Facts on Special Olympics Ontario - Aurora teams:


  • The Aurora Special Ducks Swim Club began in 2006
    • The Ducks have two levels of training; Novice and Advanced
    • Ducks train from October to May
    • The Ducks Training is split between three local Pools; Aurora Leisure Center (ALC) Stronach Aurora Recreation Complex (SARC) and Magna Complex
    • The Duck Training days are Friday’s and Sundays depending on the training program
    • GOAL is to offer stroke improvement, instruction, fitness training in a fun atmosphere AND to offer competitive opportunities to ALL levels
  • The Aurora Dunks  (basketball) had its first season in 2010/2011
    • Dunks train at St. Andrews College
    • The Dunks have two levels of training; Novice and Advanced
    • The Dunks Novices train Mondays and the Advanced Athletes Wednesday
    • Dunks train from October to April
    • Dunks partake in intramural games and tournaments locally
    • GOAL is to introduce fundamentals of basketball, teach game tactics and prepare for competition in a friendly atmosphere
  • The Aurora Eagles (golf) had its first season in 2011
    • Eagles train once per week on Sundays
    • Eagles train at Westview Golf Course
    • Eagles get equipment loaned if necessary
    • GOAL is to introduce sport etiquette, game fundamentals, tournament preparation and the opportunity to GOLF
  • The Aurora Grand Slams (baseball) had its first season 2012
    • Grand Slams train once per week on Fridays
    • Grand Slams train at "The Shed" in Newmarket
  • The Aurora Rollers (bocce) had its first season Fall 2014
  • The Aurora Dazzlers (Rhythmic Gym) had its first season October 2015
  • Active Start  (development of motor skills) A program offered by Aurora Town initiated Sept 2016

Fast Facts on Special Olympics:

 

  • Special Olympics is a charitable, non-profit organization that provides sports training and competition opportunities for individuals with an intellectual disability
  • The Special Olympics phenomenon began in 1965, when a Canadian Physical Education Professor of London, Ontario, Dr. Frank Hayden, determined through research that, the mental capabilities of people improved as their physical capabilities increased as a result of frequent physical activities
  • The first-ever Special Olympiad was staged in Chicago in 1968
  • Today, Special Olympics has grown to serve over 2 million athletes who have an intellectual disability in more than 150 countries around the world
  • Special Olympics is not just an event that takes place once every four years, as there are hundreds of Special Olympics programs throughout the province that provide athletes with the opportunity to train twelve months of the year
  • Less than 5% of our funding comes from the government. The rest is from corporate fundraising, sponsorships and personal donations
Our Athlete’s Oath is “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt"


For more information on Special Olympics Ontario - Aurora programs please contact;


Janet Mitchell - Community Coordinator

Address; 87 Kennedy Street West, Aurora, ON, L4G 2L8

e-mail aurora.coordinator@specialolympicsontario.ca