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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... June 2007
in this issue
  • The Special Oympics-Letting Athletes Shine
  • Prompting Change in Language and Attitude
  • Inspiration
  • One Family's Story
  • News From DGT

  • What are your family's interests, talents, passions? Use that information to discover your ideal family volunteer project. Do you all love the outdoors? You might consider volunteering with the park service or taking on an outdoor environmental project. If your family is musical, perhaps you can perform at a local nursing home or senior center. But if sports is your family's passion, the Special Olympics could offer the volunteer project you've been looking for. Read on to learn more.



    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    The Special Oympics-Letting Athletes Shine
    Special Olympics Alpine Skiing

    Make a Difference... Special Olympics is a worldwide movement that provides sports training and athletic competition to 2.5 million athletes with intellectual disabilities in 165 countries. You can volunteer in multiple ways- providing transportation, assisting food-service workers, taking part in telephone campaigns, distributing materials for Special Olympic events, or serving as greeters, escorts or cheerleaders. States have their own continual schedule of events, leading up to the world games in Shanghai this fall. In Minnesota, for example, athletes compete June 21-23 in the Special Olympics Minnesota Summer Games at the University of Minnesota and at Mini-Hops Gymnastics in Minnetonka. Visit the website for more information.

    Photo: Special Olympics

    Prompting Change in Language and Attitude
    Unicef

    Talk About It ...

      Be straightforward but sensitive when you discuss disabilities with your children, and invite questions. Here's how to begin.
    • Explain that people have differing abilities, and that there are some things that people with disabilities can't do, or do differently. For example, some people can't move their arms or legs. Others have trouble hearing or seeing. Some have difficulty learning.
    • Talk about the kinds of equipment those with disabilities use and how they are able to compensate to complete everyday tasks. Discussing these issues before your family begins volunteering can ensure a comfortable experience for everyone.
    • Semantics matter. Avoid certain words, such as labeling a person "disabled," "crippled," or "handicapped." Instead talk about "a person with a physical or movement disability." Avoid the phrase "wheelchair bound" for a child who uses a wheelchair "deaf and dumb" for a child with a hearing and speech disability, or "retarded" for a person with a mental disability. (Source: UNICEF, Teacher's Talking about Learning)
    • In your everyday lives, try to involve children with and without disabilities in the same projects and encourage everyone to participate.

    Learn About It ... View a short video about Special Olympics in the life of the Kaasa family from Minnesota. For children's books that focus on the issue of disabilities, see our resource page.

    Photo: Unicef

    Inspiration

    "Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

    Special Olympic Athlete Oath

    One Family's Story
    Katie Timmers

    Like many youngsters with older siblings, Katie Timmer spent a good part of her childhood cheering on the athletic endeavors of her older brother and sister, Christy and Michael. But when Katie turned 8 years old, she herself became an athlete. She was attending a school for children with intellectual disabilities in Minneapolis, and her venue was the Special Olympics. Suddenly, her family became her biggest supporters and most loyal fans. During the past 24 years (Katie is now 32 years old), each family member has actively volunteered for the organization that they say gave Katie a life - a sense of pride, enduring friendships, life skills and real joy.

    Katie's siblings and her parents, Dick and Pat, have lent a hand at all levels of Special Olympics Minnesota - assisting at events, fundraising, coaching, sitting on committees, even serving on the Board of Directors. Pat believes that Special Olympics volunteers get far more than they give and that it is an especially worthwhile family service opportunity: "Every time a family volunteers at an event, it breaks down barriers. They begin to see our athletes as regular people, with the same wants, needs and desires as anyone else."

    Read Full Story

    News From DGT

    Great news! "Doing Good Together at Cornelia School," the pilot project we developed for integrating family service into the school setting, has won the 2007 Minnesota Student Service Award for Outstanding Community Service by the Minnesota Department of Education. Since 1988, this award program has recognized the most exceptional programs and organizations throughout Minnesota that engage students in community service and service learning.

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