Through sport, Special Olympics empowers people with intellectual disability to achieve unimaginable joy, acceptance and success. As their lives begin to open up, athletes seek new challenges, and new ways to utilize their experience and the lessons they’ve learned.
Special Olympics athletes develop a sense of pride, self worth and confidence through the participation of Special Olympics programs.
Special Olympics Athlete Leadership Programs allow athletes to explore opportunities for greater participation as coaches, officials, team captains, spokespeople and Board and committee members.
These leadership roles give maturing athletes a voice in shaping the Special Olympics movement, and a chance to spread the word about the remarkable transformations Special Olympics can bring about in individuals and families. Athlete Leadership Programs also provide a way for athletes to showcase talents and interests that may have gone unnoticed.
Many athletes choose to undergo training to learn presentation skills so they can help carry the message of Special Olympics, and the courage and dignity of their fellow athletes, to the general public. Other athletes have an interest in discussing programming and policy. Athletes who serve on Special Olympics Boards of Directors help the movement set priorities based on what athletes want. Athletes share their perspectives on how well Games are run, and their wisdom about how to spend Special Olympics resources.
Be a Part of the Vision
Initiatives like these are not token positions; they are an integral part of the Special Olympics movement. Athlete leaders help Special Olympics leaders stay in touch with athletes’ interests, so that we can ensure that our programs remain vital and attractive to the people we are trying to serve. At the same time, Athlete Leadership Programs offer opportunities for athletes to pursue specialized training that can help them develop in new areas of their lives.
Through involvement with Athlete Leadership Programs, athletes can learn how to speak persuasively; interview with the media; mentor and speak up for other athletes; discuss their opinions on policy and governance; analyze financial reports; and research and prepare for fundraising events, to name just a few.
Special Olympics Global Messengers
Global Messengers are Special Olympics athletes who help spread the message and vision of the movement as well as the benefits they have gained by participating in Special Olympics. As leaders and message-bearers of the movement, Global Messengers communicate the powerful declarations of hope, acceptance, dignity and courage of Special Olympics athletes around the world. Only athletes can effectively relate the impact that the movement has had on their lives and the lives of their families.
The Sargent Shriver Global Messenger program, as part of Special Olympics Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs), offers public speaking and presentation skills training to athletes interested in representing the movement.