Athlete Spotlight: Rachel Parsons
Athlete, Rachel Parsons, has spent the last 24 years of her life participating on the court with Special Olympics Oregon. Her favorite sports are Basketball, Volleyball and Bocce. When COVID shut down in-person play, Rachel felt lonely and isolated. Eventually, she was able to find the courage to join Special Olympics Oregon’s online program called SOOR Active and turned lemons into lemonade.
She made a new group of friends and loved that SOOR Active gave her some structure to her days at home. Rachel has taken her passion for play on the court to her new community online - taking part in health and wellness challenges, daily exercise routines and dealing with stress through mindfulness workshops.
Like Rachel, many individuals with Intellectual Disabilities face isolation and loneliness at a higher rate than the rest of the population; COVID-19 has exasperated it. The ability to have a social network and community whether virtual, in eSports or on the field of play is critical to mental and physical wellbeing for individuals with ID. Rachel’s ability to overcome her fear of trying something new – an online group – has led to greater social connections and encouraged her to stay physically active and healthy during the past months.
Special Olympics Oregon remains committed to our mission of using sports training and competition to grow acceptance and inclusion of children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Athletes in SOOR Active have now helped us shape what this online community will be as we move forward. Many of the participants bring ideas for Wellness Wednesday topics to our staff, co-lead modified exercises and assist in mindfulness workshops with their peers.
Rachel and her new friends on SOOR Active continue to help us grow and develop as well.