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Hanna Atkinson - My Workplace Journey

Hanna riding a bike in the street.

What athlete leadership skills did I learn through participating in Special Olympics?

1. Dedication: I dedicate my time to develop as an athlete leader. I show up to my commitments and sport practices. Some days I don’t feel like putting in the effort, but I do it anyway because it helps me develop into a stronger athlete and a stronger leader. I am willing to put in the hard work! True leaders dedicate their energy to what they love to do.

Hanna with a 15 other bikers standing in a group.

2. Teamwork: It’s important to be there for my cycling team and for my ski team. I cheer all my teammates on because I care about them, and I want them to perform at their best level. I also have an incredible Athlete Leadership team where we complement one another.

Hanna with a large bowl full of vegetables.

3. Achievement: I feel very satisfied when I achieve my hopes and dreams. One Special Olympics achievement that I am proud of is finishing my Athlete Leadership capstone project in the health and fitness track. I did a nutrition series for the Special Olympics Colorado Fall into Fitness 6-week challenge. Doing this project was insightful because I saw personal growth and the enjoyment of the completed capstone.

4. Courage: This is an attitude and a behavior of the human heart. The Special Olympics community is full of courageous hearts. I have learned to overcome the fear of bumps on the ski hill and starting my bike from a complete stop, for instance. Special Olympics helps athletes try new things and be open to new ideas. I have experienced this with my responsibilities in our Unified Leadership presentations.

Hanna pointing to a united sign on the left and doing a head stand on the left.

5. Life balance: I tend to put pressure on myself to do everything, and I am learning that it is better for me to balance my decisions. This means being comfortable with priorities and not taking on everything. And this means not second guessing myself. I am disciplining myself to say “no” so that I don’t over-commit. I am my own self-advocate and Special Olympics guided me to that point.

You may have noticed that I have been laid off from Olive Garden because of COVID! A new workplace option has opened for me. I attended a job shadow day at United Airlines that my Special Olympics mentor, Stephanie, told me about. I was chosen for a follow-up interview and then found out that I have a new third family (besides my personal family and my Special Olympics family). I am now a part of the United Airlines family!

I believe that the leadership skills that I have gained in Special Olympics prepared me for the United Airlines job as a Service Ambassador. I am ready to start and will update you with this journey.

I have faith that as a Service Ambassador, I can continue to grow these qualities and be successful in this new workforce.