Special Olympics Florida is a free competitive sports program for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. I began giving private paddleboard lessons to children and adults with special needs three years ago. I knew that there would be athletes in our community who would benefit from a local Special Olympics Florida registered training program in SUP. I reached out to the organization’s Charlotte County branch two and half years ago to start just such a program.
Last year we had a small group of athletes from Charlotte County — only three. This year the program has five athletes. Every athlete has benefited from the training in numerous ways. The team dynamic provides friendships and builds social skills. Physical strength, stamina and endurance have increased in all of the athletes. Progress is gradual and volunteers remain close by for water safety and to provide verbal instruction. The confidence in the SUP athletes continues to grow exponentially. The families have witnessed dramatic progress since the first practice.
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