Special Olympics athletes conquer the great outdoors in Southeast Kansas

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It’s called the Outdoor Skills day, and it’s a chance for Special Olympic athletes to break down barriers and conquer the great outdoors.

The old phrase goes, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

And, some Southeast Kansas athletes are proving that to be true with the Outdoor Skills program.

“The Outdoor Skills program is an effort to get our athletes outdoors, practice fitness routines, and be familiar and comfortable in nature,” explained Erin Fletcher with Special Olympics Kansas.

The Kansas Special Olympics is participating in the statewide iniative.

The event encourages those with disabilities to get outside and learn how to fish, identify different fish species in the region, and go hiking.

“What I hope the athletes’ takeaway from today is to be able to take this fishing opportunity and be able to do it in the future — not just for today,” added Connor Ossowski with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. “And, ignite the passion to come out and fish.”

Athletes in the program collectively caught more than twenty fish in the pond.

This event offers an enriching component of getting out in nature, something many of them don’t often get to do.

“There might be a lot of different types of barriers they encounter in that regard,” Fletcher continued. “So, we want to make sure they are comfortable, that they have some confidence going outside and practicing fitness, and really just being able to be confident outside so they can be able to find and do different things to keep themselves healthy and active.”

And, one athlete hopes to do it all again, very soon.

She hasn’t gone fishing since she was six years old, and this may have sparked a new interest.

“I hope we do this again, for the other kids to come enjoy fishing and hiking,” said participant Emma Lero.

Participants walked away from the event with their own fishing pole and a fishing liscence.

The outdoor skills day was made possible through Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas and the the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.

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