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Trail Special Olympics welcomes new coordinator

Jakki Van Hemert brings a wealth of experience to her new position as local coordinator of the Trail Special Olympics program.
Jakki Van Hemert is the new local coordinator for the Trail chapter of the BC Special Olympics program.

The Trail chapter of the Special Olympics BC (SOBC-Trail) program has enlisted Fruitvale’s Jakki Van Hemert as its new coordinator.

Master Jakki, as she’s known to her practitioners at the Heart and Soul Tai Kwon Do martial arts school in Fruitvale, was previously involved in Special Olympics in Trail in 2011-12, Fernie in 2008, and volunteered in Special Olympic events while living in Hawaii in 2007. Van Hemert, who also works full time as an AMEC manager at Teck, took on the role as local SOBC-Trail coordinator in the fall.

“So far the experience in the Local Coordinator position is a lot of fun,” said Van Hemert. “It can be hard work at times, and there has been a steep learning curve, but with the help of the executive board, other volunteers, and our Vancouver office support, it is manageable. Despite the work involved, I do find it incredibly rewarding, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with a great group of volunteers and amazing athletes.”

Van Hemert takes over from another Fruitvale resident, Ben Postmus, whose enthusiasm and dedication took the local program to new heights in his many years as volunteer and coordinator.

Volunteer Rhonda Chandler, who is coaching the SOBC-Trail floor hockey team in a tournament in Trail this weekend, was a little concerned following the departure of Postmus, but says the changeover has gone well.

“It’s all been a very smooth transition. It’s been good. She’s fantastic and (with her experience) so good for the kids.”

The Trail group participates in a number of sports and activities including floor hockey, basketball, soccer, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, bowling, bocce, athletics, swimming, and golf, and compete at regional, provincial, and national championships.

The contribution of volunteers through coaching and fundraising makes the activities possible and engaging the community is a critical element in bridging any barriers for people with learning challenges. Special Olympics sports programs change attitudes and teach sensitivity and understanding of intellectual disabilities. This, in turn, leads to greater opportunities for communities to include people with intellectual disabilities and support them as they seek to enrich their lives.

“Being a volunteer run, not-for-profit organization, we are always searching for more funding,” said Van Hemert. “And volunteers continue to provide the best support and as many opportunities for growth as we can give to our local athletes, and I’m happy to be a part of this.”

SOBC-Trail is also seeking a fundraising coordinator to join Van Hemert and her team of volunteers, for more info contact SOBC-Trail at 921-9090.



Jim Bailey

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