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Volunteer Spotlight: Lauren McGinley

The halt of in-person programming hasn’t stopped Athletes and the Young Professionals Council [YPC] from breaking a sweat through the SOOR Active community – over 1000 members strong and growing! SOOR Active now features Fit 5 with guest coaches from SOOR’s YPC.

The YPC’s involvement with the SOOR Active community was the idea of Unified Partner, Coach, and active volunteer, Chloe Hammond-Bradley. She helped SOOR staff develop fitness content for the weekly schedule of workouts and wellness. When Chloe joined the YPC, she saw that members were eager to interact with Athletes, especially many of the newer members. Through SOOR Active, she saw an opportunity for the YPC to build relationships and connect directly with Athletes by leading virtual workouts to help Athletes stay active and maintain physical fitness in the absence of in-person training and competition due to the pandemic. She created a simple resource to train YPC members to lead Special Olympics’ Fit 5 exercises virtually for Athletes and presented the idea to the Council. Members were excited and hesitant at the same time, as the idea of coaching online is new to all of us.

Lauren McGinley joined the YPC in June so she didn’t expect that she would be able to interact with Athletes due to COVID-19, but with encouragement from fellow YPC member Chloe, she became SOOR Active’s first guest fitness instructor and our Athletes responded enthusiastically and in high numbers.

“Nobody plans for a pandemic, but it’s so important in any aspect of day to day life to be adaptable and flexible, so I was pumped to hear there was going to be an opportunity to offer more virtual offerings to Athletes and for the YPC to meet them even if it’s from our homes on a zoom call,” says Lauren.

Lauren’s background in fitness and work at NIKE helped to put her in the perfect position to put the Nike motto “If you have a body, you’re an athlete” to work. She recalls the experience with great joy, “the Athletes were so kind, fun and happy to attend the first Fit 5 with Guest Coach despite there being some technical issues.” Lauren was most impressed by how the Athletes encouraged each other with shoutouts of support to one another. “At the end of the day, the mission doesn’t go away just because a pandemic stalled real life. It’s still real life, it’s just slightly altered. We have that commitment to the community and we’re going to figure out how to make it worthwhile and great,” stated Lauren.

Over half of the YPC has already signed up to guest coach a Fit 5 workout over the next several weeks. The live workouts are inclusive and provide various modifications for all ability levels. Fit 5 Workouts with Guest Coaches haven’t been just Athletes and YPC members; coaches and unified partners from around the state have logged in to get their daily workout and socialize with each other.

“I’m thrilled to see such high engagement from the YPC. The YPC has a makeup of seasoned veterans and rookies brand new to Special Olympics Oregon so to see veterans like Chloe identify an opportunity for the Council to lead that benefits our Athletes and for rookies like Lauren, Nick and Levi to jump right into leadership roles is something special. Seeing passionate fellow young professionals is one thing but to see growing bonds between Athletes and coaches/unified partners is priceless. I personally appreciate their leadership, commitment and energy to Fit 5 with Guest Coach and all our other programs.” says Marlo Eckert, Chair of the YPC.

SOOR’s Fit 5 Workout takes place on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 7:15 weekly.