SOBC History

  As times have changed… so has our logo

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In the early 1960s, testing of children with intellectual disabilities revealed that they were only half as physically fit as their peers who did not have intellectual disabilities. It was assumed that their low fitness levels were a direct result of their intellectual disabilities.

Dr. Frank Hayden, a Toronto researcher, questioned this assumption. His research showed that if provided the opportunity, those with intellectual disabilities could acquire the physical skills necessary to participate in sport and to become physically fit.

Dr. Hayden began searching for ways to develop a national sports program for people with intellectual disabilities. His work came to the attention of the Kennedy Foundation in Washington, DC and led to the formation of Special Olympics.

The first Special Olympics sports competition was held in Chicago in 1968. To ensure Canada’s representation at the competition, Dr. Hayden called on Harry ‘Red’ Foster, a renowned broadcaster, businessman and humanitarian, for support. Mr. Foster accompanied a Special Olympics floor hockey team from Toronto to the competition. Inspired by his experience and by the potential of Special Olympics to enrich the lives of those with intellectual disabilities, Mr. Foster began laying the foundation for the Special Olympics movement in Canada.

In 1969, the first Canadian Special Olympics event was held in Toronto.

It wasn’t until the spring of 1984 that Special Olympics was introduced to the North Shore. It began with the vision of only a handful of parents and athletes, 10 of whom are still participating today. Those charter athletes are Cal Brandolini, Fred Collins, Bill Halsall, Gary Jones, Jeff Keast, Susan McCabe, Lorraine McLatchie, Norbie Puls, Jeremy Sellars and William Skuse.

SOBC – North Shore began with only four sports: swimming, track and field, 5 pin bowling and soccer. We now over twenty programs spanning throughout the fall, winter and spring. Once catering only to adults with developmental disabilities, we now provide positive sporting opportunities for athletes ranging in ages from 2 up. From that original handful of athletes, our participant base has grown to over 165 individuals. Also, we proudly boast over 190 volunteers. New sports are being added all the time.

The sports opportunities that Special Olympics provide to athletes offer so much more than better health and improved physical and athletic ability. Special Olympics offers our athletes increased self esteem, the ability to cultivate new and lasting friendships, develop and improve their social skills, and determine and achieve goals.

We on the North Shore are blessed with an amazing local filled with talented, caring and lively athletes, selfless and untiring volunteers and a very accepting and involved community. Together, anything is possible. Major thanks to all the parents and volunteers who had the vision, energy and determination to bring Special Olympics to the North Shore…we have been and will continue to be changed for the better as a result!