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Local athletes put on Special Performance

posted Jun 2, 2014, 10:46 AM by Stacey McKeown   [ updated Mar 5, 2015, 8:56 AM ]

By Julia McKay, Kingston Whig-Standard

Sunday, June 1, 2014 10:26:38 EDT PM

Shoppers at the Cataraqui Centre were treated to a very special flash mob in centre court on Saturday when more than 25 athletes, coaches, parents and volunteers with the Kingston chapter of  Special Olympics Ontario came from every direction and danced to Sara Bareilles' song Brave to promote acceptance and staying active. Julia McKay/The Whig-Standard

Shoppers at the Cataraqui Centre were treated to a very special flash mob in centre court on Saturday when more than 25 athletes, coaches, parents and volunteers with the Kingston chapter of Special Olympics Ontario came from every direction and danced to Sara Bareilles' song Brave to promote acceptance and staying active. Julia McKay/The Whig-Standard

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It took two months of planning and rehearsals and it was all over in less than five minutes, but it was so worth it.

When the Kingston chapter of Special Olympics Ontario's flash mob of more than 25 dancers finished, the packed levels in centre court at the Cataraqui Centre erupted in loud cheers, clapping and even a few tears.

"The point is to show the community how everyone is important and can contribute and be active together," said Mary Spencer, public relations team leader with local chapter and the flash mob organizer. "We wanted this to be an example of how everyone can participate. It gives us the chance to show (the community) what everyone can do together, regardless of abilities or background, and be active, which is a big thing."

The flash mob participants were a mix of Special Olympics athletes, parents, coaches and volunteers, all looking to promote getting active and bringing awareness to the Special Olympics.

The idea for the flash mob started with Spencer and fellow volunteer Nicole Gibbins.

"We were listening to the song Brave (by Sara Bareilles) on the radio, which is really fitting for Special Olympics because that's the motto of the whole thing, to let people be brave in their attempts at doing whatever it is they want to do," said Spencer.

After watching the Brave music video, which happens to have a flash mob theme to it, they figured that they could use that choreography.

"We've been practicing for two months," said Spencer. "Everyone showed up every week and were all excited and liked dancing and learning."

"(The flash mob) was wonderful," said Matthew Warren, one of the athletes who participated in the flash mob. "Everyone seemed so proud of me."

One of the goals of the Special Olympics is to "contribute to the physical, social and psychological development of people with intellectual disabilities through positive, successful experiences in sport."

"One of the misconceptions is that Special Olympics is this one time event or games but we're taking athletes all the time," said Spencer. "We have two main registrations for summer and winter sports."

The seasonal sports have weekly practices, tournaments and games, with some leading to provincial and national competitions.

The summertime sports include track and field, softball, rhythmic gymnastics, soccer, golf and many more.

Warren is one of two Kingston athletes who will be competing in Special Olympics National Summer Games in Vancouver next month.

Warren will be running in the track events, and Tara Pederson will be competing in swimming.

"I'm looking forward to beating my personal best," said Pederson.

"We always need more coaches and volunteers and people to participate regularly," said Spencer. "It can be a really rewarding thing to be a volunteer."

For more information or to become an athlete, volunteer or coach, visit kingston.specialolympicsontario.ca/

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