Saturday, the Prince Albert Aerials Gymnastics Club did something nobody in Canada has done before.
They hosted a Special Olympics artistic gymnastics meet at their club.
According to Aerials coach Kara Thorpe, it was the first registered Special Olympics artistic gymnastics event in this country to date.
Gymnastics Canada laid out the requirements of what a Special Olympics artistic gymnastics meet would look like in August, and the Aerials decided to implement those requirements in their meet.
“We picked up the code, called a few friends and said ‘hey, let’s try this thing called Special Olympics.’ It’s been a definite journey, a learning [experience] for everyone,” Thorpe said. “Even this event itself, we weren’t really sure what would happen when today came, it’s a bit of a wildcard but so far it seems to be working out really well.
“The kids are having lots of fun. It’s pretty special for families and parents with children that have needs to be able to have a safe spot for their children to participate in sport.”
The Aerials have long welcomed kids with special abilities. Thorpe went as far as saying they have “a special love for kids with needs and youth at risk.”
The event was another way of showing that and showcasing the athletes’ talents.
“It’s one of our mandates to have gymnastics at all levels, all ages, and all abilities,” Thorpe said. “This was just an extension of what we felt was already important in our community.”
Thorpe hopes this first Special Olympics meet is the start of something unique.
“I wouldn’t say that special abilities children aren’t doing gymnastics anywhere else, but it’s that added world of actually sanctioning a Special Olympic event,” Thorpe said. “What happens from here, eventually the athletes would then potentially go on to provincials, and westerns and nationals and even worlds for artistic gymnastics. That’s something that just hasn’t been available in the country before. It’s kind of a neat space to be in.”
On Twitter: @Jeff_paNOW
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