Special Olympics athletes turn to training and connecting online

Posted at 2:27 PM, Apr 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 16:27:51-04

In order to help maintain the athletes’ physical and social health, Special Olympics of Montana is encouraging their athletes to train virtually as means of maintaining healthy habits and social connection.

Special Olympics of Montana CEO Rhonda McCarty said these sessions are especially important to keep their athletes connected in a time of social isolation due to COVID-19 restrictions and closures.

“We happen to work with a population who is already often isolated in normal life, and now with our stay-at-home measures, you know that’s even more than ever. So we really are striving to stay connected,” McCarty said.

The virtual training sessions not only offer the athletes advice on how to maintain their health but the opportunity to connect with their community.

“We are offering these live interactive virtual training sessions. And I think interactive might be a keyword. We have launched them live to allow people to come in, and comment, start conversations, and react to other participants’ conversations.”

Mandy Patriarcher, Special Olympics of Montana's Vice President of Outreach, believes these sessions are beneficial not just for special olympians, but for the community at large.

“I think the topics we’re able to talk about are relevant to everybody right now. We all need to figure out how to stay healthy and in shape out of our normal routines. Those gym rats that we know - they’re struggling right now - so they’re able to join us and get some workout tips for how to do it in your living room, so I think it’s really applicable for everyone in our community, special olympics and beyond,” Patriarche said.

She also that that while athletes would typically be training this time of year, SOMT wanted to take measures to help the special olympians maintain those healthy habits while they prepare for a different version of their annual Summer Games.

“Normally..our athletes would be practicing for our area spring games and our state summer games...They’d be out doing actual practices, whether it’s athletics or Bocce or cycling or swimming,” Patriarche said, “Obviously with the way we’ve kind of moved this has had to look a little bit differently. But what I think we were really fortunate with is we already have a lot of resources that allow us to kind of change and morph to still provide a platform where they can be really engaged but also be talking to them about health, be talking to them about physical fitness and just basic stretches, endurance, strength.”

SOMT is still in the process of planning their Summer Games, but said they will be modifying the event this year due to lack of ability to train in sport-specific areas.

In the meantime, bi-weekly training sessions will be live-streamed on Facebook on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. You can view past training sessions on the Special Olympics Montana Facebook page or their YouTube channel .