were brought to Chicago by Harold Smith to represent Canada at the first International Special Olympics in 1968
make the sport among the most popular in Special Olympics.
Seventeen years ago, when she first discovered the movement, she was a high-school graduate with an interest in special needs who was looking for a volunteer placement. Since then, she has contributed greatly to our growth.
The Jim Thompson Award is presented to a volunteer who has contributed significantly to the Special Olympics movement, whether at the local, provincial, or national level, and who best exemplifies the spirit, philosophy, and goals of our organization.
For Jade Lawsane, her affiliation with Special Olympics has been “an amazing experience.” Seventeen years ago, when she first discovered the movement, she was a high-school graduate with an interest in special needs who was looking for a volunteer placement. Since then, she has contributed greatly to our growth, not just at the local level through Special Olympics Southwest Island in the region of Lac Saint-Louis, but also at the provincial and national levels.
Jade has successfully recruited both athletes and volunteers. Working now as a consultant in autism, she opened a foster home for people with special needs eight years ago. While all aged out over that period, five went on to register with Special Olympics. Three are still involved. About volunteer recruitment, she jokes that anyone she gets to know will be asked to volunteer. Jade counts her brother, husband, sister-in-law and a handful of cousins and friends among her successes.
She herself coaches two sports, rhythmic gymnastics and athletics, and has trained more than 100 volunteers. In the past, she has also conducted our coaching course, which falls within the National Coaching Certification Program.
Jade has helped launch two programs in Lac Saint-Louis: Active Start, a sport program offered by Special Olympics that targets two to six year-olds with an intellectual disability, and the ambassador speakers’ program, that saw 16 graduates in its first cohort three years ago.
Lastly, Jade also served on the executive committee of the provincial program committee from 2003 to 2010, driving the direction of Special Olympics in Quebec. Clearly she holds a deep appreciation for the many stakeholders in the Special Olympics movement, as well as its values and philosophy.
Volunteers like Jade are quite literally the backbone of Special Olympics, and while the reasons these dedicated volunteers have come to Special Olympics are as varied as the individuals themselves, one thing is abundantly clear: we could not deliver on our mission to enrich the lives of children, youth and adults with an intellectual disability without them.
We believe that Special Olympics can offer children, youth and adults with an intellectual disability like Catherine the opportunity to reach their full athletic and social potential, building athletic skills and character traits that will help them lead happier, healthier lives. It is a path to empowerment, competence, acceptance, joy, and friendship. And so, Special Olympics will be accessible and open to these individuals with an intellectual disability, regardless of their ability level.
Contact your local chapter for more information about registering as a Special Olympics athlete.