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Smithers Special Olympian chosen to represent Canada with special project

Torben Schuffert gathers athletes and mentors to create music/art for Berlin SO Athletes Congress
Mark Thibeault (left) and Torben Schuffert create art for the project Schuffert is presenting to the Special Olympics World Athlete Congress in Berlin, Germany next summer. (Submitted photo)

Torben Schuffert is one of four Athlete Leaders in Canada who will present projects of their own creation, at the World Athlete Congress in Berlin, Germany next summer during the Special Olympics (SO) Summer World Games.

Schuffert is a Special Olympian and the Special Olympics B.C. (SOBC) Athlete Representative for Region 7, which covers communities along Highway 16, from Vanderhoof to Prince Rupert, including Kitimat and Haida Gwaii.

Schuffert’s goal is for his project to grow inclusion and understanding of the leadership potential of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), to create a more inclusive environment and develop unified leaders inside and outside of the SO community.

“I want to use this project to reach out to our artist community by creating a project together, to form a band and each person with IDD has a mentor, we will create our very own music and songs,” Schuffert explained. “I want to also include people that are more interested in painting. I would like to have a group create some paintings with people with IDD about their sports and interests and about the song and living with an IDD. We will have an exhibit at the end of the project, play our song and invite the community to see the art and to listen and share.

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“I looked at my community and reached out to a group that is already really strong. That was the arts and music community. I don’t think people with IDD have a big part in this community, and that was the reason I reached out to them. It was hard for me to get involved, but if we work together, they will realize how we can create something beautiful together, and that we are all leaders and how awesome we are together.”

Schuffert has recruited music teacher Jon Bjorgan, and art teacher Mark Thibeault to lead and mentor in the workshops.

The Smithers Art Gallery is also supporting Schuffert and Thibeault’s efforts.

“There are two components to my project: we will create a musical band to perform a song about living with IDD, and the art group will create paintings while listening to the song.”

At the end, there will be an evening where Schuffert and friends will present the project to the wider community.

“I don’t want anyone to miss out on this opportunity to “Shine Together,” (the name of the project), Schuffert commented.

If you want to be involved in the music component, you could play a part on an instrument or help with the words. They intend to meet a few times in November and December to get ready for the community presentation in February.

Painting: attend the workshop (led by Mark Thibeault), date to be announced in January, and present the artwork to the community.

Schuffert is also looking for mentors who could help including driving athletes to and from meetings/workshops, taking part in the workshops and assisting athletes, possibly for the music one-on-one sessions and being a part of the final presentation in Smithers.

All art supplies will be provided.

Contact Schuffert for more details at:

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