Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Special Olympics Nationals

My older sister is away this week competing at the Special Olympics National Summer Games in Brandon, Manitoba as an athlete on Team BC. She is a swimmer and will be participating in several events throughout the next few days.

Special Olympics Canada is a non-profit organization "dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport." It provides sport training and competition opportunities for 31,000 athletes of all ages and abilities. Special Olympics Canada seeks to enrich "the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport." I volunteer as a coach for the Special Olympics swimming program down in the city where I go to school. I first got involved in the program in my hometown when my sister started swimming with Special Olympics.

Over the past year I have been encouraged in many ways by watching my sister prepare to participate in the National Summer Games. When she was told almost a year ago that she had qualified to be a member of Team BC she was extremely excited. She hasn't stopped being excited about it since. Yesterday, when I dropped her off at the airport she was quite literally bouncing up and down and had the biggest grin on her face.

Living with a disability is never easy. Through sharing in my sister's life I've particularly had the opportunity to see what it is like to live with an intellectual disability when you know that you have a disability that makes you different from others, unable to interact in the same way as your peers, and yet you just want to be a normal kid, adolescent, or young adult. My sister has taught me many lessons in life. She has shown me great courage and demonstrated determination, drive and focus in the face of great adversity. She has taught me not to take the little things in life for granted. She is one of those rare people in life who I know will always be there for me and freely expresses her unconditional love for me. She has a tendency to speak the truth bluntly, with little concern for political correctness, which is refreshing, and she often reminds me not to take for granted the gifts, skills, and opportunities God has given me. Among her unique gifts she has an amazing memory (which is great for me, considering I'm the kind of person who looses everything!).

Through her participation in the Special Olympics program I have seen her grow in self-knowledge and confidence. This is really important for someone with an intellectual disability. She is truly proud to be representing our province at the national competitions and rightly so. She has worked hard to get a place on the team. She has been really focused in preparing for the National Summer Games. She's definitely can swim faster than I can right now, although I swam competitively when I was younger. It brings me great joy to know how excited she is to be participating in the National Summer Games and I'm proud of her for how hard she has worked to get there.

I know that she will have a lot of fun at the competition and no matter how she does in her races, it's an achievement to have made it that far. When she left I told her that what was most important wasn't how she places in the races but that she has fun and swims her personal best. I'm sure she will.