How the Special Olympics began
Special Olympics is an International Organisation which was founded 50 years ago by Eunice Shriver, who wanted an organisation for her sister who was mentally handicapped. It started in her back garden as a group of children who had races and games to compete against one another and rapidly expanded throughout America as an organisation to offer sport and competition to children and adults with an intellectual disability and IQ under 75. It is now active in 172 countries with 5 million athletes. The Shriver family are still very much involved and Tim Shriver was present at the recent World Games. The first group in Great Britain was founded in 1978 by a gentleman by the name of Chris Maloney, who now lives in North Devon.
How to get involved - The North Devon Special Olympics Group
Founded in 2014, the North Devon group meet at the Tarka Tennis Centre in Barnstaple on a Saturday between 1.15pm and 2.45pm and at the present time, offer training and competition in table tennis. tennis, badminton and boccia. They also support a swimming group at West Buckland School, who would welcome new members.
The group are actively looking to recruit more athletes, coaches and volunteers who would be interested in developing sports especially badminton and groups who could offer and support other sports e.g. athletics, basketball etc. There is also currently a cyclist who is in need of somebody who has time to support and develop his skills in racing.
The group is very active and compete in as many competitions as possible, often travelling quite long distances, and are usually very successful. In the last year the team even flew up to Stirling for a weekend competition, but over the years the group has found that sport doesn’t only improve the individuals’ sports skills, but confidence, independence, social skills, coordination and also, forming friendships.
To find out more about getting involved with the North Devon Special Olympics Team, please contact Val Hanover by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org