Sandy Little, left, a volunteer with Special Olympics NWT from Yellowknife, helps Jeff Ashby with swimming during a ‘Try-It Day’ in Hay River in December.
Photo courtesy of Special Olympics NWT

Special Olympics NWT has had no luck in finding new volunteers to help set up programs in Hay River, except for interest from one person who may be leaving town by the fall.

For the past couple of months, Lynn Elkin, executive director of Special Olympics NWT in Yellowknife, has been seeking volunteers, including by attempting to contact people involved in a successful Try-It Day of swimming and rhythmic gymnastics in December.

Plus, she approached The Hub for a story in mid-April to raise awareness over the need for help.

Elkin is disappointed and puzzled that volunteers cannot be found.

“If the community doesn’t want it, that’s fine. It doesn’t need it,” she said. “But certainly from our Try-It Day we really got the sense that there was a group of athletes there that would really like to participate and have that opportunity to be involved in Special Olympics and make it work.”

And she remains “absolutely” optimistic volunteers will eventually be found.

“Because I think they’re there,” she said.

Special Olympics offer a chance for people with intellectual disabilities to participate in sports.

Elkin said it may be that possible volunteers are just concerned that it’s going to be too big of a commitment.

“We would be happy, though, if someone says, ‘This is all I can give,'” she said. “If we get three or four people that say, ‘This is all I can give’, we might be able to put together enough to make a sustainable program.”

The difficulty finding volunteers means that it is too late to offer a track program this year.

If two or three volunteers came forward, there would still be time to offer a golf program in July. If it can be organized, it would run an hour a week for four to five weeks.

At the Try-It Day in December, there were four residents from the Territorial Supportive Living Services.

Special Olympics hopes to start programming in Hay River with a core group of four to six athletes, who would be 13 years of age and older.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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