Volunteers Continue to Help our Athletes Reach Their PEAK

Janet Airey, PEAK volunteer and live session moderator

The Provincial Exercise and Activity Knockout Program, known as PEAK, was created to help athletes stay engaged, connected, active, and healthy, without in-person programming.

Special Olympics Alberta has run two eight-week seasons where athletes were challenged to hit their selected fitness goals, attend virtual sessions to enhance their fitness, mind, and health, while also completing a weekly BINGO card and a variety of other fun activities.

In 2021, we also introduced the PEAK Paper Program to reach athletes without online access.

The PEAK Program overall has been a massive success and last season 576 athletes participated in the programming and logged a combined 186,639 minutes of exercise.

“PEAK is a really helpful and awesome program especially this time of the pandemic,” said Kevin Petryshyn, SOA-Grande Prairie athlete. “PEAK Program is great for me to stay active and motivated [and] their online activities are easy to follow.”

The success of the program is predicated on the efforts of the 37 volunteers who have taken on various roles from facilitating sessions to moderating our Facebook group or live events.

“We are so grateful to all of the volunteers who have made PEAK such an awesome experience for our athletes,” said Jill Moore, Director of Sport Development at Special Olympics Alberta. “This program could not run without you all and we cannot wait to Reach our PEAK again in May.”

Special Olympics Alberta-Calgary coach, Marie Powell was the visionary behind our Workout Wednesday sessions, crafting a workout a weekly workout routine that would emphasize progression.

SOA-Calgary volunteer, Marie Payne

“I thought it was important to support the Fit 5 program for consistency, simplicity and to help the athletes learn these exercises,” said Marie.

“Offering an 8-week program to develop strength, then a second session to develop endurance, provided athletes with a way to work on these together in a ‘class’ type setting with the benefit of social connection and a sense of belonging to a training program.

Marie has taken the lead in preparing the framework for the workout plans and has facilitated three sessions herself.

“I found that being part of the PEAK Program enabled me to continue to move forward with our Special Olympics organization during a year where moving forward made such a huge difference in feeling a sense of normalcy,” said Marie. 

“Even though there has been a screen between all of us, every time we connected, it felt like a team was getting together for a practice or training session.”

With so many excellent volunteers, we were able to facilitate thousands of posts on our Facebook page thanks to individuals like Marie Evans and Marilyn Ritchie who shared motivational comments with our athletes every day.

Janet Airey, one of our newest volunteers, got involved with Special Olympics through the PEAK Program and has been moderating multiple live sessions every week.

SOA-Camrose volunteer, Carol Wideman

“I've loved seeing the amazing dedication and participation from the athletes,” said Janet. “They have all made improvements throughout the program, which is awesome. Also, I loved the support and community that the athletes provided for each other.”

Making sure the Facebook group and live sessions are a safe space is critical to the program and Janet has helped make this a reality.

“Most importantly, [PEAK has] provided the athletes with a space to stay connected with each other despite the challenges of the past year,” said Janet. “I am so grateful to be involved with Special Olympics and hope to continue to engage with the athletes in the future.”

One of the highlights of the PEAK Program has been earning your buff each season. To help facilitate the mailing process we have been blessed by the support of SOA-St. Albert athlete Josh Petrone and his mother, Karen!

The duo has spent many hours packaging PEAK buffs, thank you cards, and Polar Plunge merchandise to get them shipped to every individual.

Our PEAK Paper Program (PPP) has opened the doors to more athletes across the province, and Camrose volunteer Carol Wideman has played a pivotal role in making sure packages are created and sent out to the participants.

“Athletes can expect a variety of activities, easy to more difficult workouts, education on nutrition and exercise, weekly BINGO sheets, hydration and fitness trackers, coloring sheets, and more,” said Carol when discussing the PPP.

We would like to thank all of the volunteers, coaches, and facilitators that have contributed to PEAK, and we look forward to climbing with you all again in May. We have an exciting announcement coming Monday, so for more information about the PEAK Program please visit https://www1.specialolympics.ab.ca/peak-program/

Joshua Petrone preparing PEAK mailouts
Kevin Petryshyn with his PEAK certificate
Leonka Kaluha planting her flag at the top of her PEAK

April 18-24 marks National Volunteer Week, and this year we want to emphasize how important our volunteers are to us by spotlighting them throughout the month. Profiles will be released Tuesdays and Thursdays to recognize people who continue to make an impact in the lives of our athletes.

Visit https://www1.specialolympics.ab.ca/abvolunteer-week/ to see everything we have planned for the month including events, profiles, videos, and a message board where you can share a message with a volunteer who has made an impact in your life.

If you’re interested in volunteering, click here to begin your journey with Special Olympics Alberta!