The Santa Barbara Region of Special Olympics Southern California will begin offering programming in the Santa Ynez Valley next spring, said a spokeswoman for the organization.

Basketball will be the first sport offered to individuals age 8 and older with intellectual disabilities through a collaboration with the Buellton and Solvang Parks and Recreation Departments, said Gina Carbajal, region director.

All Special Olympics programs are offered free of charge to participants, Carbajal said.

David Ibsen will serve as head coach, and the organization is recruiting additional volunteer coaches to assist with the team.

Anyone interested in becoming a coach should contact Tim Ballaret at 884-1516, ext. 104, or tballaret@sosc.org.

Individuals are also being sought to cheer on the new team during practices and games. Anyone interested in becoming team fans can contact Jerrie Domingos at 688-5041.

Special Olympics Southern Califfornia — Santa Barbara is a nonprofit organization that encourages inclusion, participation and leadership in athletes with intellectual disabilities through year-round training and competition in 12 Olympic-type sports.

The program helps youths and adults develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in sharing their gifts, skills and friendship with families, other athletes and the community, Carbajal said.

Currently, the Santa Barbara Region serves more than 1,200 children and adults with more than 500 volunteers coaching and assisting with fundraising events year-round.

To learn more about becoming a Special Olympics athlete or to support the local programming, visit www.sosc.org/sb.

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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