Special Olympics Athlete Leadership allow athletes to explore opportunities in roles previously considered “non-traditional.” Such participation might come in the form of an athlete serving on the Board of Directors or local organizing committee; or it might find an athlete as a spokesperson, team captain, coach or official. Participation in Athlete Leadership may be in addition to or in place of participation in traditional athlete roles.
A program or initiative could be considered an Athlete Leadership Program if it:
- Allows athletes to choose how they will participate (i.e., selecting their sport or deciding to become a coach)
- Encourages athletes to serve in meaningful leadership roles other than or in addition to that of “competitor”
- Provides training for existing leadership as they welcome and encourage athletes in these new roles
Athlete Leadership Initiatives
Below are some initiatives that Special Olympics programs around the world have already instituted. We are proud to say that we have athletes in Florida that fit every category listed below.
- Athletes on the State Board of Directors
- Athletes on Board Committees
- Athletes on County Management Teams
- Athletes on Games Management Teams
- Athletes on Games Evaluation Teams
- Global Messengers (spokespersons)
- Athlete Congress or Input Councils
- Athlete sessions at Leadership Conferences
- Athletes as Coaches
- Athletes as Officials
- Athletes as Volunteers
- Athletes as Donors
- Athletes employed by Special Olympics
- Athletes as contributors to newsletters
Special Olympics is about breaking down barriers that others thought were permanent. Athlete Leadership is about breaking down our internal barriers that keep athletes from fully enjoying Special Olympics through self-directed, meaningful participation in virtually any aspect of the program.