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Social Opportunities & Active Recreation (SOAR) Jane Christian, Board President

HMR 1018October 2018 Issue

Social Opportunities & Active Recreation (SOAR)  
Jane Christian, Board President

The SOAR group plays an important role in the lives of local adults with developmental disabilities. What does SOAR stand for? SOAR is an acronym for Social Opportunities & Active Recreation. Our vision: “Citizens with developmental disabilities will have access to enriching and engaging activities within the community much like their non-disabled peers” describes how we strive to break down barriers for the folks we serve. We provide our (club) members community opportunities otherwise not offered, such as an annual week-long swim camp, and frequent recreational events, such as dances, fishing trips and putting tournaments. SOAR also provides weekly, meaningful, social engagement for members and their caregivers at Altama Presbyterian Church. Without such activities these folks could face isolation and a stagnant existence.

Do you also work with local Special Olympics athletes? Yes! SOAR employs an activities coordinator who primarily collaborates with Special Olympics Coastal Georgia to coordinate the Special Olympics program in Glynn and McIntosh Counties. We serve 584 athletes, providing year-round practices and opportunities to participate in local, regional and state games.

How did the need to create SOAR come about? SOAR was initially created to provide oversight for our local Special Olympics. As program planning began, it became evident our Special Olympics population would need much more than athletic experiences. Family member surveys revealed an overwhelming need for inclusive social and recreational opportunities to support each one’s overall well-being.

What’s been your organization’s impact? One family member recently shared: “SOAR has provided enriching opportunities and rewarding experiences for my son in a safe and friendly environment. SOAR has truly served to build his self-esteem.”

How does one join the group? Simply by filling out a SOAR Club Member registration form, found on our website: www.soargoldenisles.org

Do you utilize volunteers? Yes! SOAR counts on year-round volunteers who work directly with our members in the activities of our summer swim camp and weekly adult enrichment program. Additionally, we need behind-the-scenes volunteers with a variety of skills in technology, clerical work, public relations and fundraising.

What barriers affect your members every day? A big barrier for our population is the abscence of public transportation in our community. This limits their opportunities to work and engage in what our community has to offer.

How does SOAR’s Board of Directors fund your activities?
Our board members work diligently applying for foundation grants: Davis Love III Foundation, the United Way of Coastal Georgia, Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation, Easter Seals Southern Georgia, Christ Church Frederica, St. Simons Rotary Club, Lord of Life Lutheran, and hello-Goodbuy—to name a few. Additional funding comes from businesses, service clubs, and donors.

What’s next on the horizon? We are pleased to announce the launch of SOAR’s Health and Wellness Program for adults with developmental disabilities. The focus will be healthy living. We’ll integrate physical fitness, nutrition and other enriching activities such as dance, music and art.  Allie Pinson, a nationally certified therapeutic recreation specialist, will coordinate this program.  We’re excited to see how Allie puts the vision into action.

We’re Roaring about SOAR because…. SOAR is only 3-years-old, and we are passionate about our positive community impact so far. But, we know we can’t do this alone. We feel blessed to have developed a partnership with Altama Presbyterian Church, whose mission is to provide outreach to individuals with developmental disabilities. Their enormous impact in providing activity event space and compassionate volunteers helps fulfill our mission. The collaboration between our two entities is the perfect example of SOAR’s brand: Together, We SOAR!  

Website: www.soargoldenisles.org  |  SOAR Office: 912-434-3484

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