Special Olympics organisers appeal for help

Kath Rooney (left) of Sunderland Special Olympics are appealing for sponsorship to help them recruit more members and offer more services at the Raich Carter Centre, Sunderland
Kath Rooney (left) of Sunderland Special Olympics are appealing for sponsorship to help them recruit more members and offer more services at the Raich Carter Centre, Sunderland
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A CHARITY is desperate for donations to help young people with learning difficulties get involved in sport.

Special Olympics Sunderland urgently needs funding for activities to help youngsters with learning disabilities.

Kath Rooney, from Tunstall, is secretary for the Sunderland branch. She said: “We need people to know we are here. We need to encourage more people to come, but we need more services and we can’t provide that without more money.”

Sponsorship and funding are the key to the success of the charity.

A much-needed donation came from Children in Need two years ago, which enabled the Special Olympics to start swimming lessons for children who could not swim, but it costs the charity about £6,000 a year to operate.

Kath said: “We run at a loss. We just keep it ticking along.

“We have to raise our own money and we are the only organisation that specifically caters for learning disabilities.”

The Sunderland branch has about 40 members, but Kath is desperate to expand and give more young people with learning disabilities the chance to take part.

“I would like us to have an extra session during the week, an hour one week night. To do that we need more money.”

As well as building friendships and social skills, the athletes can go on to compete in national competitions.

The team and its coaches will be travelling to Bath next year to compete in the National Games.

The charity is also in dire need of a level two badminton coach.

“We are desperate for a coach,” said Kath. “We have had no luck in finding one.”

If you can help, email Kath at kath.rooney@yahoo.co.uk

Twitter: @sunechohannah

Joy for Jessica

Inspirational Wearside teenager Jessica Boyce has been a member of the Special Olympics Sunderland for three years.

Jessica, 19, from Houghton, has Aspergers syndrome. She has been selected to carry the Olympic Torch through Sunderland on June 16.

Jessica’s mum, Angela, 52, said she has noticed a change in her daughter since she joined the team.

Angela said: “It’s a big social event for the kids, they see people on a weekend.

“It gets them out of the house. It builds their confidence and self-esteem.

“Jessica is a more confident person since she joined and it’s great exercise for her.

“There are a lot of people who could be going.

“It’s a case of getting people aware so they can give it a try.”