Special Olympics keeps athletes active

Special Olympics Hamilton County (SOHC), a WeTHRIVE!℠ partner, offers 25 year-round athletic and recreational programs, serving 1800 athletes with intellectual disabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic brought activities to a halt in mid-March.

“Our programs are not considered essential, but we are an essential program to the mental health of our athletes,” said Lindsay Bartsch, SOHC program director. “For some of our athletes, we’re the only leisure and recreation opportunity they have.”

An early priority was encouraging SOHC athletes to take an online course about the pandemic offered by the national Special Olympics office. “It was a simple, easy to understand, very short course on coronavirus – what it is, how does it spread, what can I do, how to wash hands, and how to be safe,” Lindsay said.

All SOHC activities were postponed, making it hard to keep in touch with athletes. “You can only reach so many athletes virtually,” Lindsay said. “But we needed to let them know that during this time, you’re still taking care of yourself, so when we can come back to sports you are strong and you are well.”

Fitness challenge

To keep athletes engaged, Special Olympics Ohio created the year-long Fitness Influencer Challenge. Participants track exercise, nutrition and water intake, earning incentives along the way.adult female holding fitness challenge tracking form that has been completed

If athletes complete 52 weeks of consistent tracking, they’re eligible to apply for the Fitness Influencer position with Special Olympics Ohio. The winner will be featured in fitness videos with Special Olympics Ohio.

Lindsay says 30-40 Hamilton County athletes are participating in the challenge. Each one is paired with a volunteer who checks in with them.

Be a virtual volunteer with Special Olympics! Click here for information.

Moving forward

As of now, Special Olympics sports are still on hold due to the pandemic. But athletes are taking part in socially-distanced walking groups, virtual fitness on Zoom and Facebook, and virtual Pandemic Parties.5 adults walking on paved path, staying 6 feet apart and wearing face coverings

SOHC has teamed up with LADD, another WeTHRIVE! partner, on the virtual Live Well series (see below).

For more information on Special Olympics in Hamilton County, contact:
Lindsay Bartsch at 513-271-2606 or lindsay.bartsch@specialolympics-hc.org

LADD promotes wellness during pandemic

LADD is a non-profit organization that provides services — housing, health and wellness, day programs, employment, and advocacy — to adults with disabilities in Hamilton County.

LADD is partnering with SOHC on the virtual Live Well Series, which focuses on wellness and staying active. Cincinnati Bearcats Volleyball and Beyond Ballet Cincy have each led a session of this weekly series.

For more information on how LADD is helping during the pandemic, check out this recent story on WVXU.

August is WeTHRIVE! Partner Recognition Month. Read more here.