Athlete Input Councils Taking the Lead
Need some good news? Check out this story written by Charlotte Miller and Liz Strong of Special Olympics Indiana’s Washington Township Athlete Input Council. If you have something good taking place with your County’s AIC, please share with Indiana AIC Facilitator Mike Furnish (firstname.lastname@example.org).
At one of the Washington Township Athlete Input Council (AIC) meetings, we discussed the need to make our Butler University Polar Plunge more accessible. The AIC wanted to promote the idea of getting a platform instead of the pool ladder that was used at the time. As a council, we chose two members to explain our concerns: Liz Strong and Charlotte Miller.
The reason the council wanted to change the ladder was because a lot of the athletes and some other plungers felt that the ladder was unsteady and too narrow to have a safe climb to plunge into and out of the pool. Many of the athletes from our county would not participate in the plunge because they didn’t feel secure on the ladder. Those athletes wanted to participate in this event but were afraid to get into the pool using the ladder.
Liz and Charlotte researched about different platforms that could be used instead of the current pool ladder. After the research was completed, Liz and Charlotte got together with the AIC and presented the information about platforms and also the information they wanted to include in the letter, so the council could agree upon the information before finalizing the letter. The council discussed the information, agreed about what needed to be included, and Liz and Charlotte got to work on writing the letter.
Once the letter was completed, AIC representatives took the letter to the Special Olympics Indiana – Washington Township Management Team to get feedback. The Management Team suggested sending the letter to the Butler Ambassadors for Special Olympics (BASO), as they are very involved in hosting the Polar Plunge at Butler University.
Once the letter was sent, we heard back from Chasmine Anderson who is part of the Department of Student Involvement and Leadership at Butler. We were able to set up a time to meet and talk with her in person about the council proposal for the platform to be used at future Polar Plunges instead of the pool ladder. Liz and Charlotte explained the need for the platform to be used instead of a ladder to allow more athletes to participate in the Polar Plunge and also for athletes to feel safe and secure entering and exiting the pool.
Chasmine was interested and open-minded about our need for a change and the proposal to change to the platform. Chasmine stated that Butler was already trying to figure out how to improve the ladder problem during the plunge, and that they had also noticed that athletes had difficulty with the ladder. During the meeting, Chasmine stated that Butler had to buy a new ladder every year. The proposal actually would help save money and keep the plungers more stable. Chasmine let us know that she and the BASO would be looking into our proposal and see if they could work something out.
We are excited to report that Butler was able to the find the perfect fit for just what the polar plunge needed to be successful. This year Butler found some wider steps for all plungers to use, both entering and exiting the pool for the Plunge.
Chasmine said “I don’t know why we didn’t think of these sooner. You can definitely tell the difference between the ladder and new steps.” So many plungers agreed with Chasmine about the new steps. Our Athlete plungers grew this year in numbers because they heard about the new steps, and felt confident that they would be safe getting in and out of the pool. After the plunge, many athletes said they loved the new steps and can’t wait to plunge again next year.
The AIC feels that we supported our fellow athletes to be able to safely support Special Olympics Indiana and safely enter the freezing cold water. And we all agree that we are Freezin’ for a Reason!