YAKIMA, WA - Special Olympics Washington had to resort to virtual games to get their athletes active but 40 percent of athletes don't have access to technology or know how to join online.
The pandemic has helped uncover how deep that technological divide is said Special Olympics Washington CEO, David Wu.
These virtual games act as independent activity logs to keep athletes moving but the lack of in-person games has many of these athletes struggling with their mental health.
"We are their community, they really are missing the ability to be with their friends and their support system," said Wu.
Special Olympics Washington launches a pilot program where athletes will be buddied up with a volunteer to help them join their community and stay active online in April.
Wu said he saw a significant drop in athlete participation since going virtual.
"I've been told by a number of them that they just aren't excited about the virtual experience and therefore they'd prefer to do something else," said Wu.
Special Olympics Washington hosts virtual game nights, dance parties, even e-game tournaments to help athletes and their families still feel connected.
Every season, special Olympics Washington also provides its athletes with supply boxes filled with workout equipment and activity logs said Wu.
Wu said he hopes they can bring back in-person sporting events this summer.