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September 15, 2019

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Henry G. Izatt Special Olympians inspire others

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/6/2018 (460 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A few weeks ago, Henry G. Izatt Middle School student Evanjeline Smith-Baker ran for the first time in her life, with full, balanced strides.

This might not seem too unusual for most 11 year olds, but her parents were ecstatic.

You see, Evanjeline has Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes learning and physical co-ordination disabilities, and this massive improvement was totally unexpected. It happened in the cheer-filled moments of competition, during a Special Olympics track and field event at Grant Park High School.

I spoke with Chris Roe, a counselling and resource teacher at HGI, who plays a key role in organizing the school’s 13 Special Olympians to participate in the Special Olympics Manitoba program. He explained that the program is part of a world-wide Special Olympics program providing sport training and competition for people with an intellectual disability.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/6/2018 (460 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A few weeks ago, Henry G. Izatt Middle School student Evanjeline Smith-Baker ran for the first time in her life, with full, balanced strides.

This might not seem too unusual for most 11 year olds, but her parents were ecstatic.

Evanjeline Smith-Baker is coached by two of her schoolmates as she runs during a Special Olympics track and field event at Grant Park High School.

SOU'WESTER

Evanjeline Smith-Baker is coached by two of her schoolmates as she runs during a Special Olympics track and field event at Grant Park High School.

You see, Evanjeline has Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes learning and physical co-ordination disabilities, and this massive improvement was totally unexpected. It happened in the cheer-filled moments of competition, during a Special Olympics track and field event at Grant Park High School.  

I spoke with Chris Roe, a counselling and resource teacher at HGI, who plays a key role in organizing the school’s 13 Special Olympians to participate in the Special Olympics Manitoba program. He explained that the program is part of a world-wide Special Olympics program providing sport training and competition for people with an intellectual disability.

After speaking with Chris, I became aware of the value that this program brings to all participants, beyond just the athletes. Each athlete has a coaching team of five or six classmates who volunteer during lunch hours and outside school to prepare the athletes, help carry equipment and cheer them on during the events.

I followed up on Chris’s suggestion and met with Evanjeline and her parents, Tracy and Don, to get a family’s perspectives on the program (we reported on Evanjeline and Williams Syndrome in The Sou’wester last spring, in an effort to raise awareness).

Evanjeline was full of smiles and loves music, and she’s just a little unsteady on her feet.

Tracy explained that Evanjeline entered the Special Olympics program when she started HGI earlier this year. After several weeks of practice and with help from her friends she attended the recent track and field event, where the big improvement occurred.

Don said she now chases her younger brother and Tracy said she is looking forward to trying the upcoming soccer portion of the program. They both expressed the utmost praise and gratitude for Chris and the other HGI staff, as well as Evanjeline’s coaches, for all the dedication and hard work.

Chris said Evanjeline is one of several examples of children in the program who have made very meaningful strides — not only physically but also in developing overall confidence, friendships and understanding, not only for the athletes but also among the staff, volunteer student helpers and families in the community.

Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

Nick Barnes

Nick Barnes
Whyte Ridge community correspondent

Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

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