Athlete Leadership

Special Olympics BC recognizes how important it is that leadership comes from within.
Special Olympics BC athlete Matthew Williams giving a TEDxVancouver talk
Special Olympics BC athlete Matthew Williams giving a TEDxVancouver talk in November 2015.

We create the social space that allows athletes to form a strong and lasting community and feel empowered to speak out on behalf of their peers and themselves. Part of our job is to encourage SOBC athletes to take part in leadership training programs so they can have a voice within their own communities, and become representatives of Special Olympics in B.C., Canada and all over the world.

Through Special Olympics BC Athlete Leadership programs, athletes develop the skills and abilities to take on a range of leadership roles including public speaking, participating on Local Committees and Athlete Input Councils, and assisting as fundraising and program volunteers. 

These programs are proven to have a lasting benefit to participants by increasing confidence and self-esteem, and a lasting benefit to Special Olympics as these athlete leaders provide invaluable feedback and insights.

There are many ways that Special Olympics BC athletes can get involved with public speaking and increase their self-confidence. Our Athlete Leadership programs include:

  • Athlete Speakers Bureau sessions
  • Athletes as Program Mentors workshops
  • Athlete Input Council (formerly Athlete Congress/Governance)
  • Health Hero and Health Messenger training
  • Athlete Reporter training
  • And more!
Athletes and volunteer peer mentors are invited to get involved by joining the SOBC Athlete Leadership Academy! Please click here for all the details.

To learn more about Athlete Leadership and engage local athlete leaders, please contact

SOBC athlete leaders are active in a wide range of roles all over the province, country, and planet, providing important and inspiring athlete perspectives.


SOBC athlete leaders in action

The SOBC Athlete Input Council has representatives from Regions around the province. Meet the SOBC Athlete Input Council

SOBC – Surrey athlete Susan Wang currently serves on the Special Olympics Canada Athlete Leadership Council and SOC Board of Directors as well as the SOBC Athlete Input Council! Read more

SOBC – Smithers athlete Torben Schuffert is the Region 7 Representative on the SOBC Athlete Input Council and represented B.C. and Canada in the Global Athlete Congress at the 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin. As part of his Congress duties, he successfully ran an engaging inclusion project in his community!

SOBC – Langley athlete Matthew Williams currently serves on the SOBC Board of Directors, Leadership Council, and Athlete Input Council. He participated in our province’s Athlete Leadership programs and went on to serve as a Special Olympics Sargent Shriver Global Messenger in the 2011 to 2014 cohort, as the Chair of the Special Olympics Global Athlete Congress from 2010 to 2018, and as a Special Olympics International Board Member. In 2015, he delivered a TEDxVancouver talk that drew two standing ovations from the crowd of thousands at Rogers Arena and has been watched more than 1.1 million times online. 

Please click here to be inspired by Matt's TEDxVancouver talk

Find more SOBC Athlete Leadership news

Read stories from SOBC Athlete Reporters

See what SOBC Health Messengers have been up to


SOBC – Vancouver volunteer Anita on Athlete Leadership programs


Learn more

SOBC Athlete Leadership programs supported by