Gliding across the ice as she practises her figure skating program, JorDen Tyson has a lot to be proud of.
“I am the world champion!” Tyson said.
The Calgary skater brought home a gold medal from the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria — her success a triumph over obstacles.
“My disability is autism,” Tyson said.
She was sharing the ice with another Calgary figure skater who also faces challenges.
“I have a learning disability,” Tamara Lambert said. “It doesn’t stop me from any activities.”
Both young women are now training to join 700 other athletes from around Alberta at the 2019 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games, competing in eight sports from Friday, Feb. 8 to Sunday, Feb. 10 at several venues throughout Calgary.
“I like meeting all the different athletes,” Lambert said. “How nice they are and supportive.”
“It’s so exciting!” Tamara’s mother, Mary Lambert said. “She just feels so much more confident about herself and she feels part of something, which is really important for these kids.”
“They have friends, they have boyfriends.” JorDen’s mother, Trish Tyson said. “And they have coaches that push them.”
Skating coach CJ Fernet said he enjoys working with Special Olympians like Tyson and Lambert.
“Every coach should have the privilege of coaching a child with special needs,” Fernet said. “It’s challenging in a really cool, all their hard work and determination.”
“Training harder and harder,” Tyson said. “Keep going, because it’s OK to fall.”
“It is OK to fall,” Lambert said. “Like, I fell in my program, but I got back up and continued skating, which is what we’re meant to do.”
More information on the Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games is available here.