By Liz Green
Down Syndrome Express
IS IT DANCE? IS IT SPORT? To Jamie Willcock, age 11, Rhythmic Gymnastics is both, but mostly it is all about fun! Jamie started Rhythmic Gymnastics last year and loves the music and the colour and the routine. As part of the Ottawa Rhythmic Spirals, she has participated in two performances but has not yet competed. Her favourite event is with the ribbon and she takes great pride in knowing her routine and what the next move will be. The performances are really exciting for the athletes because they get to use makeup and after each performance they get a rose. Her coach, Xinhong Jin (Sing) really inspires the girls and they all love her.
The Rhythmic Gymnastics Program within Special Olympics is open to athletes aged 8 and over, of all abilities. The Special Olympic contingent of the Ottawa Rhythmic Spirals practice with a mainstream class, they warm up and cool down together, and then separate into groups to work on the different routines. Jamie’s training with the club made it possible for her to join rhythmic gymnastics team at her schoot, Robert Bateman. How much does Jamie love Rhythmic Gymnastics? Well she looks forward to Fridays, not because of the weekend, but because that is when gymnastics is!
There are two programs in the Ottawa area, one is relatively new, and the other has been around for more than 10 years. There are both group and individual routines and the events include rope, ribbon, hoop, and ball. This sport has grown significantly over the past five years and hosts at least one competition per season within the region. This year, an Ottawa area rhythmic gymnast will compete in the World Games with Team Canada!
If you have a budding athlete and would like more information on the program, please check out the Special Olympics web address at www.ottawaspecialolympics.org or call this telephone number: 613-860-6184.