Tyler Fryberg is not your typical project coordinator. As proud member of the Tulalip Tribes and a seasoned athlete, Tyler is already making strides in his new role of Project Coordinator for Special Olympics Washington’s “Building Bridges” program. This initiative is more than just a job for him; it’s a continuation of a decade-long journey with the Special Olympics, fueled by his commitment to advocacy and health.

For over two decades, Special Olympics Washington has championed inclusion and opportunity for athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Its ambitious Beyond Gold initiative aims to transform communities across Washington by 2026. The Building Bridges program, a central piece of this initiative, focuses on underrepresented communities, allowing them to co-design programs that meet their specific needs. Building Bridges not only enhances athletic experiences but also broadens access to sports for BIPOC and rural communities, integrating health screenings and educational opportunities to foster comprehensive community involvement.

Tyler’s journey with the Special Olympics began 10 years ago, and his role has evolved significantly over time. From winning a gold medal in track at the state level in 2015 to clinching titles in regional and state-level bowling competitions in 2023, Tyler’s athletic ability is undeniable. However, it is his leadership off the field that has made a profound impact.

During the pandemic, Tyler ventured into athlete leadership, discovering a passion for health advocacy. His role as a health messenger brought to light the disparities in healthcare access within the Tulalip community, especially for those with IDD. Tyler’s advocacy didn’t stop at community talks; he took his mission to the national stage, speaking in Washington, D.C., and cementing his role as a key voice for Native American communities within the Special Olympics network.

Since taking on his new role, Tyler has been instrumental in laying the groundwork for a comprehensive sports program in Tulalip. This involves prioritizing health assessments to ensure that community members are fit and ready to engage in sports, setting a solid foundation for the program’s future success.

For Tyler, the Building Bridges program is deeply personal. It represents his growth, dedication, and the realization of his vision for inclusive community engagement. His ultimate goal is for the IDD population to be fully integrated and actively participating in their tribes, overcoming social isolation and showcasing their abilities on a larger stage.

Being an athlete and a health messenger has equipped Tyler with unique skills and perspectives that are invaluable in his role as Project Coordinator. His experience has shown him the power of sports in bringing people together and the importance of tailored health initiatives that address specific community needs.

Tyler emphasizes the need for specially designed programs that not only focus on sports but also foster a deeper understanding of IDD. These programs help bring individuals out of the shadows, allowing them to shine and demonstrate their capabilities within their communities.

Tyler’s call to action is simple yet impactful: support the athletes. Whether it’s attending events, volunteering, or simply cheering from the sidelines, community support is crucial for the success of the Building Bridges program and the empowerment of its athletes.

The journey of inclusion and community engagement through sports is ongoing, and with leaders like Tyler at the helm, the Building Bridges program is set to make significant strides toward a more inclusive world.

To learn more about how you can support or get involved with the Building Bridges program, visit BeyondGoldWA.com.