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Edmonton city kicks off knit a scarf campaign for Olympics
Dec '11
There'll be more than warm hearts at the 2012 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games running in the Edmonton area next February.

A group of 10 employees from the City of Edmonton, along with half a dozen nimble-fingered friends and family, aim to help knit or crochet one scarf for every athlete, coach, mission staffer and spectator attending the opening ceremonies February 28, 2012.

That could be 2,500 scarves with a total length of 15,000 feet or 4.6 km—taller than Alberta's highest mountain, and about the same as the distance from Edmonton to the site of the games in St. Albert.

It's a national campaign, and one the Edmonton group has adopted with gusto. “We wanted to provide a bit of local warmth for athletes coming from all over Canada,” says Jennifer Forest, manager of industrial and land assessment with the City of Edmonton.

The self-confessed “volunteer junkie” heard of the scarf idea from a friend on the Games' organizing committee, and decided she could help.

Although Forest didn't knit, she took the idea to colleague Deb Albrecht, who heads up the Knitters Group, formed several years ago when some colleagues in Assessment and Taxation Branch asked her to help them learn to knit and crochet. The scarves started pouring in.

Forest says getting involved with the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games was something she couldn't turn down.

“My friend on the organizing committee took me to the provincial winter games last year, and it was a life-altering event for me,” she says. “I was at a floor hockey game where the goalie pulled himself into position using just his elbows—he had no mobility in his legs. "

"Another player could only turn in one direction—to see him connect with the puck was a miraculous thing. This is so huge for them to be part of something bigger than themselves, where they can be celebrated for who they are. It was magic.”

Last summer Forest went with her friend to watch the World Special Olympics competition in Athens, in preparation for their involvement with the St. Albert games. This just reinforced her determination to help any way she could.

Forest is taking knitting lessons from Albrecht, and plans to see athletes waving her scarves too when February 28 comes. And she's hoping other City employees, as well as community faith groups and service organizations, will start knitting as well.

City of Edmonton

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