When Stuart Baker moved back to Mackenzie from Alberta, being able to jump right back into Special Olympics “put a big smile on his face,” his mother Genevieve Baker said.
Baker says he likes Special Olympics because “it gets me out with my friends.” The Special Olympics BC (SOBC)– Mackenzie athlete also thrives in his sports, such as the 5-pin bowling program he participates in.
“When we left Grand Prairie where we were coaches, we made it a priority to help get the Local going in Mackenzie, so when Stuart moved back he would still be part of a team,” said Genevieve Baker, the SOBC – Mackenzie Local Coordinator. Plans for relaunching the Local started in 2014, and it now offers swimming as well as bowling.
“It’s so rewarding for Kris and I,” Baker said. She and her husband Kris Baker are both SOBC coaches and have brought friends on board as volunteers.
Stuart Baker joined Special Olympics in 2010 in Grand Prairie, Alta., after he and his family moved there from Mackenzie, their home originally.
“He used to play regular hockey when he was little when there weren’t many differences, but that changed as he got older,” Kris Baker said.
Stuart, then 12, found a niche participating in floor hockey and bowling with Special Olympics, and enjoyed travelling to St. Albert, Alta. for competitions.
Now 18, Baker plans to join SOBC – Mackenzie’s swimming program and would like to see more sports offered in the local, such as golf, softball, and his favourite, floor hockey.
“He’s a lot healthier when playing floor hockey, and he has lots of friends and confidence comes with that,” his parents said. “He’s happy and smiling. He’s happy to be going bowling tonight. He loves the social aspect and meeting new people.”
Baker is excited about heading to Dawson Creek in April for a bowling competition.
“He likes to dance, but he’s a little shy about it,” Kris Baker said of his son, who attended the athlete dances in St. Albert on Saturday nights.
Baker also enjoys golfing with his family in the summer and playing sport video games.
“He loves his sports,” Genevieve Baker said.