Oklahoma Special Olympics Adjusts, Innovates To Compete In Pandemic

Thursday, October 1st 2020, 5:48 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma Special Olympics participants are ramping up their fall season with new safety measures.

Some sports have begun in-person practice again, while others are now being played through gaming systems.

Coach Jeanne Malson said it’s been a tough year for her team.

“Right now, they’re allowing just ten people per practice and that’s counting coaches, parents and the athletes and the partners,” Malson said.

The Special Olympics Oklahoma Summer Games went all virtual, and winter games will likely be the same, according to organization officials.

However, the organization is finding ways to connect community online with weekly video series including fitness and cooking sessions.

“Everything’s about being safe. We’ve got to be safe as we do this,” VP of Sports and Training John Seals said.

Sports like golf, horseshoes and equestrian events are practicing in-person again with social distancing.

“All of our sports have been listed either a mild risk, a moderate risk, or a high risk, and right now all we’re doing is the mild risk sports,” Seals said.

Despite the limitations, some positive innovations have come out of the pandemic.

Oklahoma Special Olympics has teamed up with Oklahoma City University for an e-sports program.

Participants can participate with gaming systems in virtual bowling, Madden and more.

Malson said it’s been great for athletes who use wheelchairs.

“We’re learning a lot about stuff we could be doing all of the time, you know? Even when we get back to normal, some of this stuff may continue,” Seals said.

Seals said he’s hoping in-person games will return soon, with more events and volunteers than ever before.