February 19th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 7
Crowsnest Pass Special Olympic
team wants help
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
The Crowsnest Pass Special Olympic Alpine Team, from left to right, Philip Mullen, Jonathan Rolheiser and Anthony Bramer standing in front of the Olympic Torch at Canada Olympic Park Feb. 9, 2014.
Pass Herald Reporter
“As the mother of a Special Olympics athlete, I would like to share with you our story,” said an emotional Sandra Mullen, manager of the Crowsnest Pass Special Olympic Team, to council on Feb. 11.

“How would you react when your son doesn’t want to go to school? When everyday is a fight? Someone is always saying something mean; you’re different, you learn slower. He comes home from school angry and hurt from what kids say…As Philip grew up, this is what we spent twenty years protecting him against.”

“[But] in the Special Olympics they have friends and are accepted.”

At a meeting on Feb. 11, Mullen asked council to help cover training, transport and equipment costs for the community’s special needs athletes.

Mullen and her husband have been paying for all the team costs out of their own pockets. She says they cannot continue to do so as the Crowsnest Pass Special Olympic program is growing. She says the alpine team has 3 athletes and the summer Olympic squad will have up to 6.

Sandra Mullen also spoke about her son Philip, 20. In 2000, he won three medals, including gold, skiing for team Alberta at the Canadian National Games. He also represented Canada at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea. She says it costs around $2,500 in training fees to prepare her son for the 2013 world games. According to Mullen, one to three per cent of Albertans, or almost 55,000 people have an intellectual disability. She says 60 percent of special needs students report being bullied compared to 25 percent in the general population. Only 10 percent of special needs youth report having a friend.

Within the adult population, 11 to 25 percent of special needs people report having a job and up to half are obese.

“Isolation remains the norm. Adults with intellectual disabilities are the loneliest people in Alberta,” she said.

Cont’d on page 2

She says involvement in the Special Olympics means more engagement and better outcomes for these people because of the skills they learn, the opportunities to socialize and the services offered. Special needs people suffer more dental, hearing, vision and bone density problems than the rest of the population but the Special Olympics have a program called healthy athletes, where doctors and nurses test their hearing, eyes, teeth, blood pressure and weight.

Special Olympics Alberta has over 3000 athletes and 1500 volunteers. In 2013, they brought 200 new athletes into the organization and sent 11 athletes to the world games in South Korea.
Grande Prairie is hosting the next Special Olympic Alberta Winter Games in 2015.
February 19th ~ Vol. 84 No. 7
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