Karen Fox: Special Olympics - Melbourne Inner East
Karen leads a team where everyone wins
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has enabled Special Olympics to purchase an array of additional equipment for every athlete in the Special Olympic swimming squad.
The grant has also allowed the team to each recieve swimming jackets ensuring they represent their team at a professional level. The funding has paid for the swimming pool for the year, paid for a personal trainer so the team can offer a cross training and healthy eating program. Special Olympics are encouraging the athletes to lead a healthier lifestyle and not just focus on their swimming.
Every Wednesday a special group of swimmers meet at their local pool.
They are members of the Melbourne Inner East Special Olympics team and are training for local competitions and a chance to compete on a state, national or even world stage.
Coordinator and coach Karen Fox is always there to offer encouragement.
“It’s all about the athletes, giving them a chance to train, compete and improve as well as have fun,” she says.
At any time, around 40 intellectually disabled athletes aged between 10 and 40 train with the squad.
Apart from the physical benefits, participation encourages social inclusion, says Karen, who has been a volunteer at the club for more than 10 years.
She is an active member of the Special Olympics committee and was a carer and team manager of the Victorian swimming team the Special Olympics National Games in South Australia.
The club training is tailored to the needs of each athlete so they can improve their swimming and self-esteem.
Thanks to her warm personality and enthusiasm, Karen has created an environment where everyone is welcome and included.
She encourages the swimmers to focus on personal bests rather than medals.
“We create equal opportunity for everyone and they all feel they are with friends,” she says.
Karen feels honoured to be voted a Westfield Local Hero.
“It will increase the profile of the Special Olympics and show the community how amazing our athletes are.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.