Five universities throughout the state of Kansas participated in SONA Move challenge, an 8-week movement challenge to see how many minutes of training participants could complete each week to compensate for the loss of personal sporting events and social activities. The SONA Move Challenge was offered across the SONA region from March 15 to May 9 to over 1,300 athletes and Unified partners from 41 programs, moving a total of more than 2.7 million minutes. Special Olympics Kansas seized the opportunity to take advantage of the relationships they already have with universities to offer it to college teams.
“With COVID, of course, we wanted to bring some opportunities to our Unified college team, and then we just thought we could incorporate this with the SONA Move Challenge,” Maria Hinojosa, a Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® intern for Kansas, says. “It worked pretty well; we had most of our (SONA Move) tracks from this Unified Move Challenge.”
Across Kansas, 105 participants from colleges and universities participated in the SONA Move Challenge inclusive; Kansas State (31), Wichita State (12), University of Kansas (14), Pittsburg State University (34) and Washburn University (14).
Use of resources provided by Special Olympics North America, Special Olympics Kansas started the challenge with the college program and eventually opened it up to other athletes in the area. Unit partner and team captain at the University of Kansas College Club, Grace Vanbergen, was excited about the opportunity.
“I was really excited. Some of the other things we did during COVID had been strictly virtual, and this one was mostly virtual as well, but there wasn’t really any competition. So I think with the challenge, it led the competition. back, “she says.
Laura Covert, an associate professor at Pittsburg State University, said her students, who are Unified Partners, would meet with New Hope athletes once a week for fun workout trips outside. New Hope provides community opportunities and support services to people with intellectual and / or developmental disabilities.
“The overall workout was like a version of ‘duck, duck, goose,'” she says, adding, “music would play; when the music stopped, the person walking outside the circle and the person they stopped next to would , have to complete 10 squats or jumpsuits or other exercise. “
Covert said they would make it a contest to see who would finish first and shared, they also had an indoor workout where participants were divided into teams. One person threw the dice, and no matter what number landed on, it was the number of reps for the exercise. The team to complete the exercise would get the point first.
Special Olympics athlete Carolyn Quitno of Kansas was thrilled with the chance to train and continue doing things she enjoys.
“I started with Special Olympics in 3rd grade. I have practiced all kinds of sports. I swim, basketball, football and track,” she says, adding, “during the challenge, I pushed myself to be more active.”
She wanted to get creative and train around the house and said, “It’s good for your muscles; you need to train so you can get stronger every day.” She plans to continue doing the exercises from Challenge going forward.
The success of the spring SONA Move Challenge was largely due to the athletes and Unified partners who participated. With nearly 140 participants, Special Olympics Kansas has their goal on an even larger audience for next time.
“We will do the same for our Unified Champion Schools next year,” Hinojosa said.
The Fall SONA Move Challenge takes place September 13 – November 7 and will be bigger and more competitive than before thanks to the addition of a college leaderboard. You can sign up for the Fall SONA Move Challenge on August 1st here.