Give a Toonie, Share a Dream: Stella Da Silva

Alex Special Olympics


Hello, I am a mom of two beautiful boys: 10 year old, Aris who is a very reserved, bright, competitive, athletic, compassionate young boy; and 14 year- old, Alexander, who is a very competitive, charming, athletic, funny, curious, and cautious boy who happens to have Down Syndrome.

One of my biggest fears of raising Alexander was that one day he would tell me he couldn’t do something because he had special needs.  That day came in grade 1 when he told me he didn’t want to play tag with the kids at school because he could not run as fast as they could.  Hearing those words was devastating!  I knew than that he was aware that he was different and it wasn’t enough for him to just take part in the game, he wanted to feel like he could play the game just as well as the others.  That is when I knew I had to find something which is specifically for kids with special needs.  I started looking on the internet for such programs but there wasn’t much available. I then googled Special Olympics and that is how Alexander and I were introduced to the world of Special Olympics.

The first program Alexander joined was an All Sport Program.  The coaches used obstacle courses to get the kids to build their muscles and stamina while having fun.  The instructions were broken down and there were many volunteers willing to show them what they should do or even hold their hand through it all, if that is what was needed.  Once they were more comfortable more independence was given.  Alexander loved going to the class. Keeping Alexander active has always been a concern of mine, since the majority of people with Down Syndrome are overweight due to the low muscle tone, which also makes exercising harder for them than others.




Last September he joined a Special Olympics basketball team and it has changed our lives.  Alexander loves being a part of a team.  His coach and the volunteers are nothing short of amazing.  They treat their players like any competitive team would.  They expect nothing less than 100% effort.  They expect them to be focused and concentrate on the instructions.  They are told when they are not behaving appropriately and they are praised when they are.  By demanding a lot from the kids, the coaches are showing the kids that they believe that they are capable. This provides a sense of self-worth.  The coaches break down the positional play into terms they comprehend and physically shadow the players until they understand their position.  Alexander is nervous each week when he plays and that tells me he feels what he is doing is important.  Everyone wants to feel that they are a valuable part of a team whether it be on the court, in the class, at work or amongst friends.

After every practice, game or tournament, Alexander is very proud of himself.  He knows he has worked hard and accomplished something.  His confidence has increased tremendously.  He is less nervous when playing with other kids without an intellectual disability, and doesn’t even mind when people come out to watch him play!



We are constantly telling our son that he can do anything and more importantly he deserves to do everything. Special Olympics shows him that he too can play organized sports and he too can dream of one day possibly being in the Olympics.  For me this confirms everything we have been telling him, that he can do anything, it just takes someone to believe he can!

For those of you out there with a similar situation, consider putting your child into programs as young as possible.  We all know how important early intervention is.  Keeping them active is so vital for their mind and body.  As well, once you join one program you will meet so many parents who can give you information on other programs.  Remember nothing ventured, nothing gained!


Staples Canada has been proudly supporting Special Olympics Canada for more than 20 years. In stores across Canada, we have been running the Give a Toonie. Share a Dream. campaign and we’re thrilled for the first time to bring it to our online customers. Make Dreams Happen and give new opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities. Support the campaign by adding one of the donation options to your purchase today: Click here to donate.



By Adam

May 05, 2014