Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School (BMLSS) will be competing in the Unified soccer and traditional basketball events at the inaugural Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games (IYG) in Toronto from May 14 to 17, according to a news release from the OPP on March 20.
The Special Olympics Ontario IYG will bring together 2,500 student athletes from ages 13 to 21, with and without intellectual disabilities. All sports will include a traditional division, in which all athletes on the team have an intellectual disability, and a Unified division, in which athletes with and without an intellectual disabilities compete on the same team. The event is hosted by the Toronto Police Service with the support of the province and the City of Toronto. Muskoka, with the help of the Bracebridge OPP, is one of 50 communities that is raising awareness for the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics movement.
“The IYG are among several events marking the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics worldwide,” said the news release. “These games will break new ground, hosting athletes with and without intellectual disabilities who will compete against and alongside each other.”
Along with supporters like the Knights of Columbus, communities are hosting flag raising ceremonies, send-off celebrations and raising awareness of the “Draft an Athlete” campaign to help successfully draft local athletes who will be competing in the IYG. The Bracebridge flag raising will be at 10 a.m. on March 25 at 690 Cedar Lane, the local OPP detachment.
The provincial goal across all 50 celebrating communities is to raise $50,000 for the “Draft an Athlete” campaign. Every $1,000 raised drafts an athlete competing at the games with 100 per cent of the contribution helping to fund travel, accommodation, food and competition costs.
Qualifying for the event is currently underway and will continue through April. Campaign organizers estimate the final draft will include over 200 teams and 300 individual athletes from around the world.
To learn more about the Special Olympics Ontario IYG, click here.