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Special Olympics Vermont takes cautious approach to restarting programming

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - With the news that Vermont’s COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted by the Fourth of July, organizations can now plan for the rest of the year’s gatherings.

But many, like Special Olympics Vermont, are approaching the restart cautiously.

Special Olympics Vermont CEO Missy Siner Shea says while they are eager to see the state’s Special Olympians getting together in person again, their guidance from the umbrella organization has been to exercise caution with large gatherings.

So they’ll likely start with small localized groups and work up from there through the fall.

That’s because many of their members are at increased risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

“People with intellectual disability often suffer from social isolation, so being able to return to in-person activities is super important to them. At the same time, folks with intellectual disability, and particularly folks with chromosomal disorders, along those lines are at a higher risk. And we still want to make sure that we are doing everything safely,” Siner Shea said.

Special Olympics Vermont had to pivot their annual “Penguin Plunge” fundraiser to a virtual challenge and a small in-person gathering this year due to pandemic restrictions.

They noticed that despite being more inclusive with the virtual component, participation was about half of what it usually is. So they say that tells them people feel strongly about jumping in the freezing lake! Still, they raised $300,000 this year.

Watch the video to see our Cat Viglienzoni’s full interview with Missy Siner Shea.

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