Dustin Plunkett, Manager of Outreach and Inspirational Speaker at Special Olympics Southern California, led a Unified Leadership discussion at the 2017 World Games in Austria.
Loretta Claiborne, Chief Inspiration Officer, is a Special Olympics athlete with a global reputation as a powerful speaker for the rights of people with ID. Sports showed her a new world of achievement. Here she is speaking about the power of women in sports with Emirati competitive Ice Skater Zahra Lari during the Majilis at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
Sargent Shriver, second from right, was an early advocate for empowering Athlete Leaders to be spokespeople for the movement. It was through his early investment in athletes as leaders that enabled Special Olympics International to grow from a sports organization to one advocating for change in society.
Jasmine Sharif, Special Olympics Pakistan athlete and Vice-Chair of the Global Athlete Input Council (GAIC) is active on social media and regularly submits short stories about the impact of Special Olympics.
Kester Edwards, Manager of Sport & Health at Special Olympics International, is a former competitive athlete who strives to put athletes first in everything he does. Here he and Bob Beamon, Global Ambassador, are fitting an athlete for a free pair of shoes at World Games 2019.
Hassam Zogaib, Special Olympics Paraguay athlete shared his testimony on being an athlete and a football referee at a 2016 Coaches Certificate in Paraguay.
Special Olympics District of Columbia, athlete Ricardo Thornton carries the Flame of Hope with former South African President Nelson Mandela. This 2001 event launched an ambitious campaign—led and embraced by Special Olympics athletes—aimed at expanding Special Olympics programs to neglected and isolated people with intellectual disabilities across the African continent.
Selina Ao Ieong In, former Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger (SSIGM) and current Special Olympics Macau athlete, delivers a speech during the 2014-2018 SSIGM Training in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Will Schermerhorn
Global Athlete Input Council representative from Africa and Special Olympics Botswana Athlete Leader, Brightfield Shadi speaks at the 2017 Special Olympics Unified Talks in Schladming, Austria.
Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers (SSIGMs) Nyasha Derera (left) and Renee Manfredi (right) host the Global Inclusive Health Forum at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
Too often, because of negative attitudes and low expectations, people with intellectual disabilities (ID) don’t get an opportunity to show what they can do. Special Olympics has an approach—Unified Leadership—that overcomes this barrier. Building from sport, Unified Leadership teaches leaders of all abilities to value and learn from each other, and create environments where people with ID succeed in meaningful roles.
Special Olympics’ leadership work with athletes starts through sport—teaching life skills such as discipline and teamwork. This is built on through athlete leadership development, and opportunities in health, schools and youth programming.
Our success depends on strong, diverse Board, volunteer and staff leaders. We invest in their development, instilling a culture of learning through online, on-the-job and Special Olympics Leadership Academy experiences to build dynamic leaders with inclusive growth mindsets.
We are committed to using our leadership work to drive change. As Special Olympics athletes teach the world about Unified Leadership, leaders without disabilities learn how to improve their behaviors and practices, adapt from the ‘norm’, and make their organizations more inclusive. The end result is that everyone gains a new perspective on potential, leadership and true inclusion.
To find out more about Special Olympics leadership programming, contact us here.