In 2017 we reflected on a decade that monumentally changed and molded Special Olympics Minnesota, a decade unlike any other in our history. While we remain dedicated to our core mission of providing training and competition opportunities, Special Olympics has become a global agent for social change through programs that promote inclusion, acceptance, and health and wellness.
Here in Minnesota, we’ve seen 30% growth in traditional athlete numbers, and we’ve added approximately 50 new traditional delegations and almost 40 school delegations to our rosters. Area competition participation is up 67% from 2007, and state participation for the same time comes in at just under a 50% increase.
As everyone knows, we can grow and change and evolve and adapt, but what we can’t change is the availability of time. We don’t get additional weekends, days or hours during the year. As a result, every 10 years or so our organization takes a hard look at whether we can continue along the same trajectory—or whether we need to set a different course for the future.
To that end, we began a visioning process in late 2015 that continued through 2016. The primary goals of our discussions were:
- Allowing athletes continued opportunities to train and compete in existing sports, with a higher emphasis on local training and competition
- Building a calendar that allows for growth
- Developing a calendar with more consistent windows of time, with state events distributed to allow more time for area competitions
- Limiting facilities conflicts during months of high demand with high school and club sports
- Consolidating state competitions for enhanced visibility while decreasing expenses for delegations
Our challenge is to try and make decisions that benefit a majority of our 8,000 athletes, 3,500 coaches, 250 delegations and 13 area programs. The information linked above outlines our new sports calendar that began with State Bowling in 2017.
Although this shift represents big changes for all of us, we’re excited about the prospects for the future.