Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017
#Heartbeat for the world
Occupational Therapy students and lecturers at Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017
70 students from our programme grasped the opportunity to work as volunteers at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Graz, Schladming and Ramsau in the province of Styria, Austria in March of 2017. Within the Special Olympic’s very own health program “Healthy Athletes”, and tutored by their instructors, some of them made use of their OT skills and expertise by practising stress coping strategies with athletes (“Strong Minds”) and advising them individually on matters of prevention and health promotion (“Health Promotion”.) Some others prepared and carried out occupation-based workshops for athletes, their coaches and their families. Another group of students developed their intercultural skills by supporting the international participants as a part of the “delegation service team”. Our students contributed a total of 2504 voluntary work hours. The program “Strong Minds” was so successful that it has been made a permanent element of the respected “Healthy Athletes” program.
Preparation for these activities had started over a year before the Games. Students analysed the athletes’ needs at the Pre-Games, learned about non-verbal and intercultural communication, then devised their programs and carried out pre- tests with similar target groups.
Brigitte Loder-Fink; Stefanie Schwarzl; Gabriele Schwarze; Romana Toriser (FH JOANNEUM University of Applied Sciences, Graz / Bad Gleichenberg, Austria).
Photograph showing Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics, with OT students and instructors.