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Special Olympics New Zealand selects inspiring new leaders

Special Olympics New Zealand selects inspiring new leaders

Eight New Zealanders with intellectual disabilities are being given the chance to extend their leadership and communication skills through Special Olympics New Zealand’s prestigious national Athlete Leadership Programme.

Special Olympics New Zealand offers year-round sports training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities in the community, and at secondary school. More than 7000 athletes train with the organisation in 13 Olympic-style sports and compete locally, nationally, and internationally.

Special Olympics New Zealand’s national Athlete Leadership Programme was set up in 2010 and involves athletes participating in a series of workshops on public speaking, media liaison, goal setting, leadership, and governance. Upon graduating they become “Global Messengers” and present to community groups around the country as ambassadors for the organisation.

To date 47 athletes have graduated as Global Messengers and have gone on to represent Special Olympics around New Zealand and abroad, and assist in the organisation of national events such as last year’s Special Olympics National Summer Games in Dunedin.

Joining this elite group are Sam Donaldson (Special Olympics Wanganui), Hamish Hurst (Special Olympics Nelson), Martin Joyce (Special Olympics Auckland), August Landrebe (Special Olympics South Canterbury), Stacey Parker (Special Olympics Te Awamutu), Vicki Pere (Special Olympics Hutt Valley), Rachell Prestidge (Special Olympics Counties), and Conrad Ryan (Special Olympics Manawatu).

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These athletes, comprising the Athlete Leadership Programme Class of 2015, will begin their training in February next year. All the athletes have reported feeling a great sense of pride and honour in their selection and expect the programme will have a dramatic impact on their lives.

“Special Olympics New Zealand has played a really big role in my life. I was 18 when I first began training. I’m now 48 and am still going strong in athletics because I love it so much. It’s my passion. As athletes we get so much encouragement and support in our training and at competitions. I’m really looking forward to building up my confidence so I can talk to community groups and let them know about Special Olympics and share my experiences,” says athlete and 2015 trainee-Global Messenger Vicki Pere.


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