Unified Leadership

Group photo

Special Olympics athletes contribute to their communities in so many ways beyond the playing field. Athlete leaders put their talents to work as volunteers, coaches, fund-raisers, staffers, Board Members and spokespersons. They are teaching the world the true meaning of inclusion.

Inclusion Starts with Athlete Leadership

Through sports training and competitions, Special Olympics helps people with intellectual disabilities (ID) achieve joy, acceptance and success. They gain the confidence that comes with achievement. They feel empowered. Athletes lead the way as the voices of the movement, taking on meaningful roles in their communities and educating the world about the potential of people with ID. These athletes drive the Special Olympics movement forward with their insights and contributions, and are shining examples of what it means to be a leader.

Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers

Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers (SSIGM) are chosen from among the world’s top Athlete Leaders, serving as spokespeople for the Special Olympics movement. These Athlete Leaders are passionate about empowering people with intellectual disabilities, and serve as a voice for athletes from all around the world.

Meet the 2015-2019 Class of International Global Messengers

Global Athlete Input Council

With athletes at the center of the Special Olympics Movement, they also need to be at the forefront of our leadership, helping guide the way for the future of Special Olympics. Members of the Global Athlete Input Council represent each of the seven regions, and are part of the discussion at the global leadership level. These individuals present valuable review, input, and feedback to the Special Olympics International Board of Directors and Leadership Team.

Athlete Input Council Members Discuss Leadership

50th Anniversary Messengers

The group of 50th Anniversary Messengers will serve as ambassadors for an important message: What once was a movement FOR people with intellectual disabilities has now become a movement FROM them. This role offers a tangible example of what this transition means, and the power it holds to inspire a new generation of supporters and stakeholders. These Messengers will play a key role at the 50th Anniversary Event in Chicago as spokespeople and leaders.

Founded in 1998 by Sargent Shriver, International Global Messengers are chosen from among the world’s top Athlete Leaders to serve as spokespeople for the Special Olympics movement.
Inspiring Words from Our Athletes
"I figured if my story could change a person's mind about another person, or especially a child's mind about another child, then it was the right thing to do."
Determined to fight for others, Haseeb is actively helping to change the perceptions and mindsets of society so everybody can follow their dreams.
The Special Olympics athlete speaks up for people with Down syndrome following an offensive comedy special.