When Sophia Allen joined Special Olympics in the summer of 2016 she and her family embarked on the journey as a family. Fast forward to present, and Sophia, sister Katelynn, and parents Faith and Richard have found themselves as members of the larger Special Olympics family.
Since joining, Sophia’s mother, Faith, says that Special Olympics has changed Sophia for the positive. Faith heard about Special Olympics through a family friend, who spoke positively of her son’s involvement, and of the opportunities that where available. Sophia, always an active child, was beginning to see herself as less connected with generic sports programs and other activities she was involved in. Sophia noticed that she was becoming the oldest and tallest in her activities. Sophia decided she wanted to give Special Olympics a try. Faith connected with the Special Olympics PEI office, and the staff helped find a program that would be a good fit for Sophia.
Sophia joined the Charlottetown Rhythmic Gymnastics program in the Summer of 2016. Despite being the youngest in the program, the other athletes were welcoming to Sophia. In the Summer of 2017, despite being too young to compete at Provincial Games, Sophia and her family travelled to the Special Olympics Nova Scotia Summer Provincial Games to cheer on her teammates. She was awarded with the Dr. Frank J Hayden trophy in 2017 to recognize her overbounding spirit. One year later, in June of 2018, it was Sophia’s opportunity to experience the thrill of competition for the first time. Despite being nervous, and with the support of her team, Sophia performed her routines in front of the judges. Sophia earned a Silver Medal for her Group Routine, and a Bronze Medal for her Hoop Routine.
In addition to participating in Rhythmic Gymnastics, Sophia is also an active participant in the CrossFit 782 Performance Program. Furthermore, Sophia has participated in Youth Multi Spot.
Sophia thinks very highly of her big sister, Katelynn. Katelynn volunteers at the CrossFit 782 program, and would like to be more involved with volunteering when she get older. Having a sister with an intellectual disability, and seeing her with her peers at programs, has helped Kathleen to grow and mature as a young adult.
Sophia’s father, Richard, is the State Deputy for the PEI Knight of Columbus, a role he has held since June of 2018. Special Olympics is the international Charity of Choice of the Knight of Columbus. Locally, the Knights support Special Olympics both financially and through volunteerism. Each year the Knight of Columbus present Special Olympics PEI with a donation at their State Banquet. In 2018 Sophia accepted the donation of behalf of Special Olympics PEI.
Faith credits Special Olympics with changing Sophia for the positive. Being a Special Olympics athlete has given Sophia the ability to continue in sport at an age appropriate level, to find enjoyment in sport, and to experience the competitive side of sport. She has been able to develop coping mechanisms, experience the social side of sport, and make new friends. All of this has been significantly positive for Sophia’s self-esteem.
Faith tells of how it was the staff at Special Olympics PEI as a large part of why their family “jumped in with two feet”. They felt supported and accepted by not only the office staff, but also by the volunteer coaches. They were part of the Special Olympics family.
Outside of Special Olympics, Sophia has competed at the Acadian Games in Track and Field. She was the first PEI athlete to compete in the Parasport division at the 2018 Acadian Games in Miramichi, New Brunswick. Sophia earned 2 Silver Medals, one in Shot Put, then other in the 100 meter.
Sophia is a grade 7 student at
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