Bakersfield, CA – PathPoint works hard to ensure health and wellness to our participants and one staff member is encouraging just that! In June, Shawn White, PathPoint’s Director of Program Services in Kern County, volunteered at the Special Olympics Southern California Summer Games at California State University Long Beach. Founded in 1969, the Special Olympics is an international organization that supports individuals with intellectual disabilities through the participation of sports.
Shawn is one of the Special Olympics Southern California athletic coaches and sees the importance of PathPoint supporting programs such as the Special Olympics, since it strengthens the communities that PathPoint serves.
When questioned about any stories or participants that stood out to him, Shawn recollected one participant in particular. This athlete had verbal challenges, usually only speaking in a whisper, and had difficulty performing a lot of the athletic movements, such as throwing. However, with the help of some volunteers, she began to play a game where she would throw a softball into a cone. Shawn recalls, “It was the most we could get out of her, but it was great! She quickly became the darling of the team. We eventually were able to convince her into taking walks around the track. This is what the Special Olympics is about.” The Special Olympics provides the opportunity for athletes to form social relationships with one another, improve overall health, and find a sense of pride when they compete and accomplish their goals.
Shawn couldn’t have said it better than when he stated, “Exposure to other activities enriches our participants’ lives”. Shawn expressed, “I know many individuals, especially those in group homes, who only go to work or their program and come directly home each day. It may encourage participants we serve to join the organizations we volunteer with, making more of an effort to socialize and become more active.” PathPoint seeks to encourage employees and participants alike to join organizations and programs outside of PathPoint, just as Shawn has, in hopes to reinforce the positive impacts of an inclusive community.
A goal of Shawn’s is to inspire other staff and participants to volunteer with services outside of work, which he is already setting an amazing example. PathPoint is thrilled to have Shawn blessing the community around him with his determination to help above and beyond. Shawn concluded, saying he is honored to be a part of the Special Olympics “for the same reason I am grateful to be employed by PathPoint. It is a great thing to be a part of, to give opportunity to those who may not have it otherwise.”