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River Valley Regional YMCA partners with Special Olympics

PHOTO PROVIDED This group of exercisers are regulars at the YMCA.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) and the River Valley Regional YMCA have announced increased fitness and training opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Effective March 1, 2020, the partnership will connect athletes with six YMCA facilities in Williamsport, Muncy, Jersey Shore, Lock Haven, Mansfield and Towanda. Both organizations share a similar mission that works to improve the quality of life and well-being for the community.

The partnership will help alleviate the Special Olympics struggle to find suitable locations to train athletes and host local competitions. Athletes in the Special Olympic programs will have access to the Y facilities where they can train for competitive meets, improve fitness levels and build conditioning skills needed to meet the physical challenges of sports training. Athletes can also train for Olympic-type sports year round as opposed to their current 8-week sessions.

Developing healthy habits is another big challenge facing these athletes and their families. Many have limited healthcare so health issues often go untreated. In order to help combat these issues, the River Valley Regional YMCA will be offering a discount for athletes and their families. With the support from the Y, athletes will have regular access to health and wellness programs, group exercise and nutritionists as well as open gym and swim time.

“Special Olympics Pennsylvania strives to ensure that all of our athletes have the resources they need and opportunities to achieve their best,” said Matthew Aaron, SOPA President & CEO. “This wonderful new partnership with the River Valley Regional YMCA will not only help our athletes continuously improve their conditioning and skills, but help us educate athletes and families about the importance of nutrition and leading a healthy lifestyle.”

PHOTO PROVIDED Young and old alike enjoy swimming.

This collaboration will not only benefit the athletes, but the entire community which the Y serves. In addition to the training and fitness components, community activities and events will help drive the importance of developing youth across generations and diverse populations. The Y connects people from all backgrounds who want to live healthy and feel connected to something bigger than themselves. The relationship between Special Olympics and the Y opens up volunteer opportunities for both organizations and demonstrates the impact that partnerships like this can have on strengthening the community.

“We are excited for this new partnership and our collaborative efforts to serve the Special Olympians and their families,” said Chad Eberhart, RVR YMCA CEO. “The more opportunities we take to work alongside other organizations, the stronger impact we can have on all communities we serve.”

The River Valley Regional YMCA joins more than 30 other YMCA facilities in Pennsylvania who have partnered with SOPA to increase opportunities for athletes to develop lifelong fitness goals and reach their full potential. For more information about the partnership and to find local opportunities to get involved with SOPA and the local YMCAs, visit please visit www.specialolympicspa.org.

ABOUT SPECIAL OLYMPICS PENNSYLVANIA

Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) provides year-round training and competition in 21 Olympic-type sports to more than 20,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities or closely related developmental disabilities. For 50 years, SOPA and its 54 local programs have used the power of sports to transform the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and unite everyone by fostering community and building a more acceptable and civil society. SOPA is much more than a sports organization.

Through its Athlete Leadership Programs, athletes assume meaningful leadership roles, influence change within the Special Olympics movement and take on roles as Global Messengers (trained as public speakers for Special Olympics), athlete representatives, coaches, board members and more. SOPA also addresses major challenges facing its athletes including healthcare. Its Healthy Athletes program offers athletes free health screenings in the form of eye, ear, dental and podiatry assessments. Athletes are also taught how to live active lifestyles, eat healthy and more.

Additionally, SOPA strives to create a unified world by promoting inclusion, uniting communities, and changing attitude. Through Unified Sports, SOPA brings together individuals with and without intellectual disabilities as equal teammates in training and competition, which promotes respect and acceptance, and facilitates meaningful relationships between people of all abilities. For more information about how you can join “The Inclusion Revolution,” visit www.specialolympicspa.org.

ABOUT THE YMCA

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.

Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. ymca.net

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