December 02, 2013 | North America: Minnesota

Empowered by Special Olympics Programs

By Kayte Barton

My name is Kayte Barton, and I have been a Special Olympics Minnesota athlete for the last 18 years. I'm part of the Woodbury Blazing Stars, a team which I organized. I compete in three sports, Poly Hockey, Softball, and Unified Football. In addition, I am active with our Athlete Leadership Program (ALPs), Healthy Athletes, and Young Athletes Program. My involvement with Special Olympics programs has completely changed my life. One example is that I used to be extremely shy; people laugh with me when I tell them that because they cannot picture me as being shy! The main reason I am no longer shy is my involvement with Special Olympics Minnesota Athlete Leadership Programs. I have completed all seven courses offered by Special Olympics Minnesota ALPs; Global Messenger, Advanced Global Messenger, Leadership/Governance, Athletes as Coaches, Athletes as Volunteers, Challenges Through Choice, and our newest course Athletes as Ambassadors. I was one of fifteen athletes attending the Athletes as Ambassadors course; through this new course, we as athletes are charged with changing Special Olympics Minnesota and helping to grow our Athlete Leadership Program. In addition, I am a former Special Olympics Minnesota Board of Directors member and a founding member of our A-Team which is the team responsible for the training that takes place within our Athlete Leadership Program. I attended the Special Olympics Incorporated ALPs Training Conference with our team in May of 2002 and I am the only founding athlete who remains active with the A-Team when we train new athletes in ALPs. The skills that I have learned through the ALPs courses have also made me a passionate advocate for Healthy Athletes and its mission. I have had the opportunity to take part in Healthy Athletes screenings. I couldn't find a dentist that took Medicare and Medical assistance and when I contacted our Special Smiles director, she helped me to find a dentist that would take me. My mentor Judy Wahl encouraged me to become a Healthy Athletes volunteer.

About Kayte Barton: I am an Athlete, I have been competing for 18 years. I compete in Poly Hockey. Softball and Unified Flag Football. I am an Athlete Leader too. I have completed Global Messenger, Athletes as Coaches, Volunteers, and Governance and Leadership 101.

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