Special Olympics NWT is seeking volunteers to start programming in Hay River for the first time.

Sandy Little, left, a volunteer from Yellowknife, helps Jeff Ashby with swimming during a Special Olympics NWT ‘Try-It Day’ in Hay River on Dec. 8. photo courtesy of Special Olympics NWT

This follows a successful Try-It Day on Dec. 8, when four local athletes showed up.

“It was fantastic. We were so happy with it,” said Lynn Elkin, executive director of Special Olympics NWT in Yellowknife.

Along with the four residents from Territorial Supportive Living Services, the Try-It Day – which featured rhythmic gymnastics and swimming – also included local volunteers, a delegation of five volunteers from Special Olympics NWT and two athletes from Yellowknife.

Recently, Elkin has been trying to contact the local volunteers from the Try-It Day about starting programming.

She has managed to contact one, who is willing to participate in running the sports.

“We’d love to hear from some others that would like to do that,” she said.

Elkin is looking for about two or three more volunteers, including one to do some administrative work.

“We kind of need a person on the ground, as well, who can help with booking the facility, calling people and letting them know it’s time, putting out a poster, or letting people know that we’re going to try something,” she said, adding Special Olympics NWT will offer guidance.

Elkin said it would be great to start programming with a core group of four to six athletes, who would be aged 13 years and older.

“Special Olympics is a chance to allow people with intellectual disabilities to participate in life-long sport,” she said.

Elkin noted that the key volunteer organizer for Special Olympics in Hay River was the late Doug Maclennan, who passed away in January.

Afterwards, his family requested that any in-memoriam donations in his name be made to Special Olympics NWT.

Those contributions will help start the programming in Hay River.

Elkin said the initial programming would likely be track and field, and golf.

Each of those programs would run an hour a week for four to five weeks.

Elkin said the programming would be very basic.

For instance, golfing would just have the athletes try putting, chipping and driving, along with playing one hole on the course.

While there is funding to start the programming, Elkin said volunteers would have to either find a sponsor or do some fundraising to offer more sports opportunities in the future.

Anyone wishing to volunteer for Special Olympics can contact Elkin by telephone at (867) 446-2873 or by e-mail at


Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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