Special Olympics athlete and Healthy Athlete Messenger Benjamin Edward Norris and Healthy Athlete mentor volunteer, Callie Dupree, are starting a unified running group.
In a unified running group, each runner with a disability is paired with a runner without a disability to train and compete. This is a fully inclusive recreational opportunity.
Ages eight and up are welcome. Siblings are welcome. Participants do not have to be currently involved with any Special Olympics activity.
The goal of the group is to run/walk a 5K in the spring (or for younger group participants—a one mile or 3K).
“In any case, the group will work up to it!” a news release stated.
“Both Ben and Callie live in Blacksburg. They went to Health Messenger training with people from all over the country. Through the training, all Healthy Messengers are charged with developing a project with a year to implement it,” said BJ Norris, Special Olympics area coordinator.
The Health Messenger program focuses on empowering those with intellectual disabilities to develop leadership skills to help others “lead healthier lives, promote inclusion around health and wellness services and advocate for the health needs of people with intellectual disabilities,” according to the Special Olympics website.
At the training, Special Olympics Health Messengers learned about health topics, nutrition, hygiene, fitness, making healthy choices, health advocacy and access.
The group’s first meeting is at 5 p.m. Sunday on the Huckleberry Trail, although the exact location has yet to be determined. The group is also working to find an indoor location for when weather doesn’t permit.
“We’re excited about this project,” Norris said.
More than 10volunteers have signed up already.
Athletes and volunteers interested in participating should contact BJ Norris, Special Olympics Area Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-808-7351.
Visit www.facebook.com/groups/Www.specialolympicsva.org/ to follow all Special Olympics’ activity in the New River Valley.
— Staff reports