As Special Olympics athletes gain confidence and feel empowered, they often seek new challenges.
Special Olympics Canada provides Athlete Leadership Programs, which equip athletes with the tools to undertake positions of leadership within their community and the broader movement. This allows athletes to explore opportunities beyond sports training and competition. These leadership roles can include public speaking, being a member of an Athlete Input Council, being a Peer Mentor and taking on positions as Board and Committee Members.
These roles give athletes a voice in shaping the Special Olympics movement, and a chance to spread the word about the transformations Special Olympics can bring to individuals and families. Athlete Leadership also provides a way for athletes to showcase and utilize their talents, interests and expertise.
Special Olympics encourages 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 Canada and all over the world.
Through involvement with Athlete Leadership Programs, athletes can:
- Learn to speak persuasively and comfortably
- Interview with the media
- Mentor other athletes
- Assist with fundraising events
- Discuss their opinions on policy, governance, and all SO related topics
- Feel empowered to speak out on behalf of their peers and themselves
The Athlete Leadership Program offers courses across the country and continues to grow. The program is proven to have a lasting benefit to participants by increasing their confidence and self-esteem. Further, through the program, Special Olympics Canada receives important athlete input and insight into athlete issues, which can be used to direct future initiatives.
There are a number of courses offered through the Athlete Leadership Program, some of which are highlighted below.
Athlete Speaker Training
Athlete Speaker Training is designed for athletes who are looking for speaking experience and would like to develop speech writing and speech delivery skills. During this course, athletes write their own speech with the help of their speech coach, as well as deliver the speech they wrote to their peers. Athletes are the best ambassadors for Special Olympics and having them speak at community, provincial/territorial, and national events assists with public awareness and fundraising initiatives.
Governance Training includes an overview of how Special Olympics’ boards, committees, and Athlete Input Councils operate. With this training, athletes can represent themselves and fellow athletes on committees and voice their opinions, feedback, and suggestions, as well as make decisions that affect them and their peers.
Peer Mentorship Program
The Peer Mentorship Program is for athletes who wish to volunteer with a program and share their sport knowledge with their peers. There are many athletes around the country who possess great leadership and mentorship skills. This course provides them with the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence to participate in a program as a Peer Mentor rather than an athlete.
Athletes on Committees and Input Councils
Athletes are often invited to sit on committees and be members of Athlete Input Councils. In Athletes on Committees and Input Councils, athletes learn how to work together, share their opinions, be leaders, and speak on behalf of fellow athletes.
Health Messengers empowers athletes to serve as health and wellness leaders, educators, advocates, and role models within their communities.
Canadian Athlete Leadership Council
The Canadian Athlete Leadership Council (CALC) is a group of experienced athlete leaders who provide athlete representation and an athlete voice at the national level. The CALC is comprised of one athlete leader from each provincial/territorial Chapter. The CALC is advisory to Special Olympics Canada‘s senior leadership team.
The CALC is a forum for athletes to discuss various topics with each other and with the national leaders and leadership bodies. Their responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- Providing feedback on ideas, policies and relevant issues identified by Special Olympics Canada senior leadership and staff.
- Providing ideas on issues the CALC has identified to senior leadership.
- Promoting Athlete Leadership, an off-the-field training program that equips athletes with the tools to undertake positions of leadership within their community and the broader movement in Canada.
- Gaining leadership training and experience.