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Thinking Outside the Box and Inside the Virtual Space

special olympics virtual classroom Nov. 24, 2020 – A typical November for the Special Olympics staff at Special School District would normally include several events and tournaments each week—from volleyball to bowling, and maybe even a basketball event. It goes without saying that many of these events are on hold in 2020, but the work that the Special Olympics staff is doing is still moving full-steam ahead.

“We were trying to think outside of the box for ways to support our coaches and our families, and we came up with a virtual classroom and a virtual gym,” said Kerrie Townsend, SSD Special Olympics facilitator.

The virtual classroom features health and wellness videos, recipes for families to try at home and more. Townsend and her team also put together a virtual gym to help guide students in activities they can do at home and explains the rules of many of the Special Olympics competitions. Click here to tour the virtual classroom. (Note: Clicking the link will bring up a prompt asking you to create a copy of the Google Slides.)

“We know that with kids spending so much time in front of a screen, we want to provide them with opportunities to get up and moving,” Townsend said.

The Special Olympics staff also put together “Special Olympics in a Box” packages to distribute to coaches who completed their Special Olympics update training this year.

“The boxes are filled with materials and resources that coaches can use with their athletes when students are attending school in person,” Townsend said.

The box includes a ball that students can use for soccer drills, a jump rope, fitness bingo cards, beanbag activities and cards with different fitness activities that can be posted around a classroom.

“We wanted to come up with activities that students can do individually and socially distanced, but that would also allow them to keep working on skills they’ll need when we’re able to resume in-person events,” Townsend said.

The hard work has paid off. There are more than 2,000 athletes signed up to participate in Special Olympics this year, with more than 75 schools in 16 partner districts receiving the "Special Olympics in a Box" packages.

The Special Olympics staff also has one more trick up their sleeve—this time with an activity that will bring athletes together from across the county, virtually of course. On Dec. 3, SSD’s Special Olympics will be hosting a live virtual Zumba class (password: dance) in conjunction with Best Buddies.