2021 SOO Virtual Volunteer Conference Schedule of Events


Saturday, April 24th @ 6pm

Conference Kick Off

While the athletes are clearly the reason why we exist, our volunteers are how we make things happen.
Join us on Saturday, April 24th as we kick off a month-long Virtual Volunteer Conference where we celebrate YOU, our volunteers. During the month, you will have an opportunity to engage with other volunteers across the province, hear from provincial partners and share in virtual fun activities!
Our kickoff will see how far we've come over the past year and how we will continue to move forward together.
Watch the replay Here

Monday, April 26th @ 7pm

Unified Sport

Curious about starting or expanding Unified sport opportunities? Join Dr. Kelly Nicitopoulos-Arbour from the University of Toronto along with educators from Ontario as they discuss how Unified sports are currently implemented in their varying settings, plans for future growth, and results from a study conducted by U of T surrounding the current status of Unified sport and suggestions for future improvement.

Watch the replay HERE

April 26, 28 & 29 from 6-8:30pm

Learn to Coach Boccia with Boccia Ontario

Through the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), Boccia Canada provides training and certification for those interested in coaching boccia. These workshops are designed to meet the needs of all types of coaches, from the first-time coach to the head coach of a national team. The NCCP gives coaches the confidence to succeed and is designed to prepare any level of coach. For beginner coaches at the community level, the 8-hr ‘Learn to Coach’ workshop covers information for participants that are new to boccia.

Registration: Currently Full

April 27 & 28 from 5-9:30pm

Athletics Ontario Foundations of Coaching

This course will consist of 4 theory modules which are part of both the NCCP Athletics Sport Coach and NCCP Athletics Club Coach training pathways.  Once coaches complete these modules online via Zoom, they can select to continue their training for either NCCP Athletics Sport Coach or NCCP Athletics Club Coach training (in their chosen event discipline). Coaches will need to complete the remaining practical/technical portions in-person once it is safe to do so.

Registration: Currently Full


Tuesday, April 27th @ 7pm

Community Spotlight: Fundraising

Ever wanted to know how some communities organize their large scale event fundraisers? Interested in knowing how a smaller community can pull of a unique yearly event? 

Tune in to hear from your fellow volunteers regarding their successful fundraisers and pick up tips and tricks for how you can run your own. Fundraisers to be discussed include London's FANtastic Event, Indulge Ottawa and Manitoulin's Bluegrass in the Country Music Fest.  


Watch the replay Here

Wednesday, April 28th @ 7pm 

SOO Sessions

Choose from one of the following sessions which will be running from 7-8pm; all sessions will be recorded so you can watch them anytime during the conference.

Web Development: Learn the ins and outs of creating your community Google site with Michael Chung, Program Consultant

Watch the Replay Here

Partner Organizations: Learn about two of our biggest supporter organizations with Paul Etherington, Volunteer Chairman & Co-Founder of motionball and Karen Richards, Provincial Director of the LETR

Watch the Replay Here

Athlete Leadership: Learn about our Athlete Leadership programs and how you can get athletes in your community involved with Ryan Colpitts, Athlete Leadership Coordinator

Watch the Replay Here

Thursday, April 29th @ 7pm

Social Event: Happy Hour

Connect with SOO staff and volunteers during our virtual Happy Hour. It's not an SOO conference without some icebreakers! Grab a drink and get ready to see some familiar faces. 

Saturday, May 1st @ 10am

SOO Sessions

Choose from one of the following sessions which will be running from 10-11am; all sessions will be recorded so you can watch them anytime during the conference.

Return to Program: Review the process for getting programs restarted, while meeting all health and safety guidelines with Juli Prokopchuk-Brattan, Manager of Major Games

Planning for Success: Join Pratima Bhatt and Chris Mehak, Program Consultants, to discuss creating operational budgets, fundraising plans and succession planning.

The Portal (10-11:30): This session, directed at Head Coaches or Team Managers and community Data Administrators or Community Coordinators, will review routine tasks in the Special Olympics Membership Portal. Together with Program Consultant Hellaina Rothenburg, participants will go through the steps of creating a sport club session, adding club members and making reports. Participants do need to pre-register and should already have access to the portal with their portal account. It is recommended to have two devices: one to view the presentation and a second (a laptop or desktop computer preferred) to access the portal.


Tuesday, May 4th @ 7pm

Social Event: Escape Room

Grab some volunteers and see if you can escape from the SOO Locker Room! This Escape room was designed by Kris Nyhout, a volunteer with SOO London. Rooms will have a maximum of 5 participants and will have a Keymaster who can help them with their clues.

When you register for this event indicate who you would like to be in a room with, or we can randomly assign you. 

There will be prizes and bragging rights for the team that can escape in the shortest period of time.


Wednesday, May 5 @ 4:30pm

SOO School Programs, Best Practices

Join a great panel of educators across Ontario as we share successes and programs surrounding a variety of topics including: School programs during COVID, fundraising, leadership class involvement, and whole school engagement.

Wednesday May 5th @ 7pm

Mental Health Session

Dr Natascha Wesch is a Mental Performance Consultant, a Canadian Certified Counsellor, a Certified Mental Health Professional who works with athletes, coaches, performing artists, corporations, businesses and individuals looking to develop mindset skills and enhance performance. Natascha's unique sport, business and academic background allows her to bring a wealth of knowledge to her work.

During this session Natascha will be discussing how to recognize when you are moving from one emotional stage to another (from calm, to alert/aggravated, to anxious/shutdown), and she will be providing tools/strategies to help manage and rebound from those stage-changes. 


Thursday, May 6th @ 7pm

Community Spotlight: Engaging Members Virtually

Zoom, Meets, Teams, FaceTime, Messenger..... We've all spent a lot of time staring at computer screens over the last year. Join your fellow volunteers and a special LETR guest to discuss the unique and creative ways some have been utilizing to stay in touch with athletes, volunteers and sponsors throughout the Pandemic. 

Hear about Virtual banquets, ongoing monthly community wide engagement calendars, virtual practices and hear from Jason Herder, LETR member from Chatham-Kent about the successful virtual fundraising campaigns they have held over the past year. 

Saturday, May 8th @ 10am

SOO Sessions

Choose from one of the following sessions which will be running from 10-11am; all sessions will be recorded so you can watch them anytime during the conference.

 Social Media: Discuss how to effectively utilize Social Media to keep your members and sponsors engaged with Jasmina Vranesevic, Manager of Communications

GMS: Learn how to use the Games Management System that Special Olympics uses to division results for all individual timed sports (swimming, athletics, nordic, snowshoeing) with James Noronha, Director of Program Development

Grants, Grants, Grants: Kirsten Bobbie, Senior Manager of Program Innovation, will walk you through the ins and outs of grant writing and reporting. 

Advancement & Roster Selection: Join Sport Developer, Jarrod Copland, and Manager of Major Games, Juli Prokopchuk-Brattan to talk advancement and rosters. 


Monday, May 10th @ 7pm 

Community Spotlight: All About Athletes

Join your fellow volunteers and some members of the Athlete Leadership Council to discuss how to engage athletes in fundraising initiatives, some unique ways of handling wait lists and ways to encourage athlete leadership and advocacy in your community.

 Learn about what a registration Lottery is, how to incentivize fundraiser participation and discuss how to engage athletes and encourage athlete advocates.


Tuesday, May 11th @ 7pm

SOO Sessions

Choose from one of the following sessions which will be running from 10-11am; all sessions will be recorded so you can watch them anytime during the conference.

Virtual Resources: Join Jenn Findlay, Resource & Best Practices Officer, to go over the virtual resources that SOO has created over the past year. This will be an open forum where you can provide feedback and suggest new resources you would like to see. 

Provincial/National Campaigns: Special Olympics Ontario is proud of the support we have received from our Provincial and National Partners. Our partnerships would not be possible without the efforts from our grassroots programs and members. During this session Javed Thadani, Manager of Fundraising & Sponsorship, will review the annual campaigns that take place within communities of Ontario and suggest how we can maximize our supporters' and athletes' marketing exposure.

Burning Questions: Manager of Field Services, Sheryl Huestis, will cover some of the most frequent questions Program Consultants get, top Risk Management issues and answer some of your questions. 


Wednesday, May 12th @ 7pm

Social Event: Trivia

Join us for a fun and challenging night of trivia! Gather up your team (1-4 people per team) virtually or among your household and match your knowledge against SOO volunteers and supporters from across the province.

When registering, please indicate how many people will be participating from your household, or indicate who you would like to be on a team with. For those that do not specify, random teams will be assigned. 

Categories will cover a wide range of topics, and bragging rights and prizes will be on the line for the top teams!


Thursday, May 13th @ 7pm

Sport & Belonging

This session is about research being carried out by the University of Toronto in partnership with Special Olympics Ontario. Researchers and their students, and partners from Special Olympics Ontario, including three Special Olympics athletes, are members of the research team studying how belonging happens through participation in Special Olympics sport. During this session, research team members will be talking about: (1) the preliminary findings of this research and (2) how these findings about belonging through sport are relevant to athletes and their families, programs, coaches, and others connected with Special Olympics.


May 17, 19 & 21st from 6-10pm 

SOC Competition Introduction NCCP Course

This course was developed for those SO coaches that work with competitive athletes.

The material that will be covered in this course is as follows: planning a safe practice for the SO athlete, associated disabilities, planning a practice and emergency action plan, analyzing the SO athlete, modifying the practice for the SO athlete, and supporting the competitive environment.

This course is a requirement for Head coaches at the Provincial games and for all coaches that would like to coach at National or International games.

Registration Link: RSVP HERE


Tuesday, May 18th @ 6pm

Transitioning Athletes from School to Community Programs

Special guests will discuss successful strategies that can be used to seamlessly transition students graduating high school into community programs. Specialty programs designed specifically for transitioning athletes will also be explored. Discussion is encouraged surrounding how we can continue to improve this across Ontario.


Wednesday, May 19th @ 7pm

Community Spotlight: Volunteering

Join fellow volunteers to learn about various volunteer roles, get insights into role specific succession planning, and hear the highlights and favourite things about  each role from the volunteers.