A Mom and Daughter Fitness Team

May 29, 2012

Special Olympics trains and encourages its athletes with intellectual disabilities to go faster, jump higher, score more and in every way, do better. Special Olympics Programs in the United States are trying out a new angle, too. A fitness and nutrition program promoted by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and embraced by Special Olympics is rolling out nationwide.

300x200-Emily---stretching

Emily and her mother, Mary, stretch together as part of their PALA+ challenge work.

Striving For Fitness

A mother and daughter, Mary and Emily Belk of Alabama, took part in the pilot of the Special Olympics Get Fit for Life program, part of the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+) challenge in the United States.

Both Mary and Emily comment on their involvement in the program below.


More About PALA+

Anyone at all can sign up for the PALA+ challenge. It's great for families, whether they're involved with Special Olympics or not. Learn More

Emily Belk's Story

I found out about this challenge from my coach, Cindy Bickman, and I joined even though I already work out a lot!  I enjoy walking, practicing gymnastics, and cleaning the house. I work in the yard at least once a day as long as there’s no rain. If it does rain, I just do more inside.

Mom and I like to walk the dogs together, and Mom likes to ride horses. I like to help groom as well as ride.

When I joined the “challenge,” I found out there was more to exercising than just gymnastics. Apparently, I do a lot of exercising every day. I ended up telling Coach Cindy, because I knew she did a lot more than me! She has stairs at her place, and she teaches gymnastics and ballet 4 to 5 days a week, along with riding and taking care of her horses. I told my coach she could get exercise points by just grooming her horses.

My coach has a lot of good athletes who come to Chattooga Gym once or twice a week, so I know they stay busy practicing. I’ve told them there was more to do in this challenge than just gymnastics. I pointed out that you can always keep track of the amount of time you exercise and write it down. Then you can go back to the computer later to put in the activity you do every day. That way we can do more exercising and less sitting at the computer. 


Walking dogs for fitness

One of the great things about the PALA+ challenge is that it focuses on doing things you already like to do.

Mary's Story

When the weather turns cold in February, I usually start getting lazy. But this year, Cindy Bickman, my daughter Emily’s gymnastics coach, told us about First Lady Michelle Obama’s exercise challenge, and she strongly encouraged us to participate. 

We each signed on, and after that, Emily took over recording our activities and time. Emily’s diligence and enthusiasm were contagious. 

Emily and I started doing some of our exercising together, and we added our two mixed-terrier dogs to the challenge. When my friend invited us to ride and groom her haflinger horses, Emily figured out that there was a category for the “horse care” activities. Every morning when Emily practices her rhythmic gymnastics, I help her with her stretching exercises, and sometimes we do the Chattooga Gym’s “Safety Dance.”

After three months of participating in the President’s Challenge, we’ve gotten into the habit of looking for new and fun ways to exercise. Now the workouts have become part of our daily routine, and I feel sure we’ll keep it up after we’ve reached our goals. 


Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Help us reach out to one more athlete.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 220 worldwide locations.

FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU »

Videos and Photos

DifferentBarry Cairns tells what it's like to be a Special Olympics athlete.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

SpeechlessSpecial Olympics changed her life in deep and meaningful ways.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Summer GamesAround the world, months of practice are paying off.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Photos on FBSee photos and comments from our supporters around the world.See Photos »


Videos and Photos

Hope in HaitiLeo and Gedeon play in makeshift fields, tent towns, wherever they can.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Finding His VoiceDavid Egan has always dreamed big. Now look at him!Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Sport Teaches UsOur life-changing work is fueled by the power of sport.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Making SuccessDoctors said Lani is “never going to achieve anything.” Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Very Very SpecialMusic helps Special Olympics make an impact worldwide.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Around The WorldGreat photos of Special Olympics events and people.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Focus on ChangeWhat we do can't be done without our partners.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Power of SportsSports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

What We DoSports, health, education, community and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Who We AreWe are athletes, families, celebs, volunteers and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Summer SportsOur athletes run, jump, swim and score in summer.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Playing UnifiedUnified Sports reveals strengths in every team member.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Healthier AthletesOur free health clinics are making a huge difference.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Deon NamisebHe's a speaker and role model. It didn't start that way in Namibia.Learn More »


Special Olympics Blog

Health Needs Need Closer Examination

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."read more »

Posted on 2014-04-07 by Ryan

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan