Making the most of SOMO summer programming

For high school students, summer could be seen as a time for catching up on sleep and sun while taking a deserved break from school work. But for two weeks in June, one Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) athlete took a different approach to summer.

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Michael with one of the fish caught at Sports Camp

Michael Mohrmann, a rising senior at Warrenton High School and a SOMO athlete for nearly a decade, took full advantage of several summer activities offered by SOMO and the Missouri Association of Student Councils (MASC). From June 13-24 Mohrmann kept himself busy, attending the MASC Summer Leadership Workshop for five days in Fulton, then topping it off with a full week in Mexico, Mo. attending two SOMO events: Athlete Leadership Program (ALPs) University and Sports Camp.
Mohrmann was drawn to these experiences by a desire to improve both as an athlete and a leader to someday become a basketball coach. He was encouraged by his coaches, Julie Busken and Julie Reese, to attend.

MASC has partnered with Special Olympics Missouri as its charity of choice for 25 years and provides its students throughout the state an opportunity to volunteer and provide service. SOMO athletes also have a chance to attend the Summer Leadership Workshop, the flagship event of MASC’s programming through which more than 700 students in grades 8-12 meet in Fulton for an annual weeklong leadership camp. Athletes can serve as representatives on the Youth Activation Council and can participate in the many activities featured throughout the week.

Mohrmann was one of six SOMO athlete representatives at the Summer Leadership Workshop, where he was able to serve on a discussion panel about his accomplishments with Special Olympics Missouri, as well as immerse himself in the world of student council leadership building.

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Practicing balance during soccer drills at Sports Camp

“In my new experience at MASC, I got to meet new people from other counties and school districts while learning leadership traits,” Mohrmann said. “It taught me not to be afraid, to be yourself and meet new people in your life.”

Following the week in Fulton, Mohrmann travelled north to Mexico, where he attended ALPs University, a two-day educational program for SOMO athletes that gives them a variety of topics to pursue, such as governance, communications, leadership and coaching. Athlete-leaders who attend ALPs University are required to go to at least three sessions, as well as complete a practicum for each course they take in order to graduate from their majors. Once completed, the athlete-leaders will be better equipped to serve as representatives and advocates for Special Olympics Missouri in their respective communities.

Mohrmann, along with his unified partner Tyler Busken, completed his second ALPs University session June 17-19 as a governance major, and will graduate following the completion of his practicum and leadership capstone. As a result of what he learned at ALPs, Mohrmann led the discussion of our input council following Sports Camp, facilitating discussions with more than80 athletes about what could be done to improve camp. He will also be an athlete representative at the Special Olympics South Central Conference in October, which takes place in Dallas.

“I got to experience how to become a leader in my Special Olympics area, and I learned that you can be a leader in everyday life and not to be afraid to become one,” Mohrmann said.

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Learning to ride a bike at Sports Camp

To cap off his whirlwind week, Mohrmann attended five days at Sports Camp, a weeklong summer camp to practice sports, learn new skills and create bonds with new friends. In addition to practicing for the sports he plays, which include volleyball, basketball, bowling, track, soccer and bocce, Sports Camp gave Mohrmann a chance to practice what he had learned in the weeks prior, as well as learn how to ride a bike.

While it may have been a busy time of the summer, Morhmann said that he enjoyed his time at all three, and highly recommends them to anyone considering it. ALPs University, MASC and Sports Camp all gave him a great chance to build skills and development traits that will last well beyond those two summer weeks. They also provided a great example of the kind of programming that SOMO offers to its athletes to help them grow.
“You do not want to miss the fun (of these events) staying at home playing video games,” Mohrmann said. “It is a chance to meet new people, have fun for the summer and learn new things that can help you for your whole life.”

Getting yourself involved in any of these programs is easy. If you have interest in the MASC Camp or the Youth Activation Committee, contact Amber Young at young@somo.org. Sports Camp information is always available at http://www.somo.org/camp.
If you have any interest in attending the next ALPs University, it will be held Oct. 27-29 in Kansas City with online registration opening Aug. 29. More information can be found at http://www.somo.org/alps, or by contacting our ALPs coordinator Brandon Schatsiek at schatsiek@somo.org.

-Harrison McLean

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