Jackie Charchuk, proud Special Olympics parent and volunteer, has been involved with the Special Olympics movement since her university days at Acadia University. Jackie holds a degree in Special Education, and studied back in the 1970s. At that time Jackie did volunteer work as a student. In the 1980s Jackie was working as a teacher in West Prince and volunteered with Special Olympics at a track and field competition.
In 1983 Jackie and George Charchuk welcomed a baby girl to the world, Janet. In junior high Janet began participating in Special Olympics programs through her school, and so Jackie also became more involved, ensuring that Janet got to practices, and becoming her daughter's biggest fan.
As Janet became more involved with Special Olympics so did Jackie. In 2001, when Janet competed at the Canada Games in swimming Jackie would volunteer at swim meets, and would help out where ever possible. Now Jackie has numerous roles - driver, fundraiser, family liaison, and cheerleader, doing what she says any parent of an athlete would do. Jackie is also Janet mentor in the Athlete Leadership program.
Over the years Jackie has had many fond memories of her and Janet's time with Special Olympics. A highlight for Jackie was watching Janet compete at the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria. Jackie had the opportunity to meet athletes and families from across the world, and was able to witness the global impact of the Special Olympics movement. She saw firsthand how Special Olympics is contributing to social change worldwide.
When asked what Jackie would say to other parents of potential Special Olympics athletes, Jackie's advice is to get started when children are young. Jackie encourages involvement at the recreational level, including the Active Start program. Jackie continues to say that involvement in Special Olympics programs builds lifelong friendships and promotes inclusion. Furthermore, involvement in Special Olympics programs promotes a healthy lifestyle.