Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger Ian Harper won the 2022 Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List Award in the Sports, Arts and Entertainment Leaders category. The award is presented by Dimensions, an organization in the UK that offers support for people with learning and developmental disabilities.
To accompany the award, Dimensions published an interview with Ian titled Bringing Special Athletes to the Next Level. This is an excerpt.
Did your experience as a Special Olympics athlete shape your role as the Chairman of the ALT (Athlete Leadership Team at Special Olympics Great Britain)?
Yes, I would say that being an athlete definitely gave me the confidence I previously lacked. I was also given training on-the-job in areas such as public speaking and leadership. I really wanted to be able to represent Team GB athletes with disabilities on the world stage to let them have their voices heard. My motivation was really to have representation led by athletes, for athletes.
What are some of things that you learnt during your time with the Special Olympics?
Being an athlete has really instilled drive and given me new ambitions. I have seen what people with disabilities are capable of, and I think that sports can be extremely beneficial. This is why I am so passionate about increasing access.