Not only is Damion Chiodo a star athlete with Special Olympics Alberta-Calgary, but he is a Health Messenger who is advocating for healthy lifestyles in an exciting way.
Damion is the host of Accessible Athletics, a podcast that is dedicated to sharing wisdom about health and fitness with Special Olympics athletes.
“I am hoping to create and provide information about why it is important to be healthy and live a healthy lifestyle,” says Damion.
“I want athletes to try and understand how important it is to eat well, workout, and stay fit throughout your life.”
The ability to pursue a passion, teach his fellow athletes, and have fun continues to be the combination that inspires each episode.
What started as a volunteer project with CJSW Radio at the University of Calgary quickly evolved after Damion was accepted into the Virtual Health Messenger Training (VHMT) with Special Olympics Alberta.
Damion became a Health Messenger in November 2020, and he has already begun integrating some of that knowledge into his latest podcasts.
Being a representative for his province, fellow athletes, and his friends is something that means a lot to him, and his father, Rosario.
“I couldn’t be prouder of him,” says Rosario.
“Embracing the role and wanting to try and make a difference in the lives of athletes to me is what life is about. There is no better quality in a person than trying to help others in need.”
As an athlete, Damion knows the importance of exercise and a healthy diet and how it has helped him progress throughout his Special Olympics journey.
He got involved in 2017 to be active and play sports in an environment where he felt he could fit in.
“Special Olympics has given me so much and has changed my life by helping me be a more confident person,” says Damion. “I have made many great friends being a part of Special Olympics and met some very great coaches.”
Damion participates in basketball, the advanced golf program, and his personal favourite, floor hockey, donning the jersey of the infamous Calgary Thunderbirds.
He has competed on the National stage as part of Team Alberta in 2018, where he earned a silver medal with his basketball team and was selected as the tournament MVP.
The experience meant a lot to Damion, but he believes the real prize was learning that sports are more than just about wins and losses but enjoying the journey and making new friends along the way.
“Special Olympics is tremendous in helping those with disabilities grow and develop,” says Rosario. “Not only does it provide an important physical and health benefit but the personal growth that happens within each of the programs cannot be measured. This is perhaps the most important thing. Some of these athletes benefit from the physical aspect, some from the social aspect but all benefit from the personal growth that happens. Special Olympics is irreplaceable for individuals with disabilities.”
Celebrate World Health Day with Damion by listening to Accessible Athletics which is available online through our PEAK Program website or by clicking the links below.