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Photo courtesy Motionball

Students for Special Olympics aim to promote inclusion through sport

By Kristy Koehler, February 28 2019 —

Students for Special Olympics (SSO), a campus club promoting the Special Olympics and fundraising for their cause, is excited to participate in the motionballU Marathon of Sport event again this year.

Motionball pairs University of Calgary students with local Special Olympics athletes for a day of athletic competition and fun. The goal of the event is to promote inclusion and sportsmanship. Melinda Coetzee, vice-president of administration for the SSO, is this year’s captain for the clubs’ motionball team.

Coetzee is passionate about building an inclusive campus and making sure that people are given opportunities to participate in sports. 

“I think it’s awesome that Special Olympics provides programming for people who don’t necessarily get opportunities elsewhere,” she said.

Registration for the event is $20. Participants receive an Under Armour T-shirt and a lunch in addition to an afternoon of sport and making new friends. If participants fundraise $50, they can get their initial registration fee back — or leave it as an additional donation to the cause.

“The money raised helps to support programming for the Special Olympics,” Coetzee said. She loves that people of all different abilities come together to participate in a day of sport and fun. 

“I think it’s a really great opportunity to facilitate these connections,” she says, adding that folks with special needs really aren’t any different. 

The club is committed to ending the use of the R-word, acknowledging it has real, hurtful impacts on those of differing abilities. 

“It’s totally and completely not okay,” says Coetzee, adding that the club will be taking pledges at the event from students who want to commit to never using the word again. The hashtag #NoGoodWay is a big part of the campaign to raise awareness and aims to make sure people know there isn’t a positive way to use the R-word.

It’s important to be cognizant of the language we use, says Coetzee. Folks with special needs shouldn’t be defined by their differing abilities through language. 

“It’s a person with special needs, not a special needs person,” she said. “You want to define the person before the ability.”

In addition to motionball, the SSO runs several other fundraising events throughout the year. Coetzee recommends joining the club’s mailing list to keep up to date with everything they’re doing. Students can do this by visiting the SSO profile on ClubHub.

Motionball takes place on March 23. More information can be found at motionball.com.

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