Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

Meet Coach Jennette St. Jean

22 November 2017

Special Olympics BC – Invermere Club Fit coach Jennette St. Jean loves to help empower SOBC athletes through exercise. 

St. Jean says volunteering with Special Olympics has been a great opportunity to bring together her passions for fitness and working with individuals with intellectual disabilities. She says helping SOBC athletes keep active and build confidence has been a highly rewarding experience, and it has been amazing to see the athletes start to develop their own fitness goals. 

St. Jean says it has been great to see SOBC – Invermere’s volunteer base grow over her time with the Local, and she hopes everyone has an opportunity to get inspired by Special Olympics. 

What sports do you coach? 

At present, I am a personal trainer, active aging specialist, and group trainer at the Valley Fitness Centre in Invermere. They have generously allowed the Special Olympics athletes free access to the gym, thus allowing me to set up individual and group programs for our Club Fit athletes. We gather every Friday, six to seven athletes along with approximately four additional volunteers, and run a group class that guides each athlete on how to build their muscle strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance for any sport they wish to compete in – if that is what they choose to do. It's about the ability not the disability! At present, we have athletes competing in swimming, skiing, and bowling, and working towards competing in other sports. 

When did you start with Special Olympics, and how did you get involved?

I have been working with the athletes for three years now after retiring from the school district in Fort St. John and moving to Invermere. Merging my passions for special needs education and fitness has led me to volunteering with the Special Olympics program. Having my husband join me in volunteering has given us a great focus for our retirement years.

What is your favourite thing about being involved with SOBC?

My favourite thing about volunteering is the "give and you shall receive" benefit. Working with these wonderful people has allowed me to help them grow and feel comfortable in the fitness industry, whether they compete or not. I teach them to stay active and healthy while feeling proud of their accomplishments. When they work out, they love to feel the power that their bodies have and the empowerment that it gives them to continue. Seeing their faces light up while doing this is my reward! They are beginning to set their own goals and that is also very rewarding as they each reach out towards them. 

What would you like others to know about SOBC – Invermere?

I would love all people to be inspired by Special Olympics. Our volunteer base here in Invermere has grown because we all love our athletes. New people are seeing these athletes in the gym and are inspired by them. Their smiles and laughter light up our gym. Everyone needs to see that!

Watch the Shaw TV Kootenays segment about SOBC – Invermere’s Club Fit program

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