Guest writer – Dr. Eleni Rossides, National Director of Special Olympics Cyprus.
In order to encourage and enhance social relationships the Special Olympics, provides programs such as the Athlete Leadership Program, in addition to other sport programs.
Through trainings and competitions, the Special Olympics helps people with intellectual disabilities to succeed, feel joy, enjoy acceptance and respect from society as individuals. Through the Athlete Leadership Program, athletes can go even further! They are encouraged to take meaningful positions of influence and leadership throughout the organization to help determine policy and set direction. They admirably represent their teammates, communities and country.
As Georgios Christodoulou, the 24 year-old who has participated in the World Games 2011, World Winter Games 2013, European Games 2014, World Games 2015 and achieved the Highest Score: Gold Medal in 200m (European Games 2014) said:
“I feel Happy and satisfied. I love Sports”
Our athletes can become mentors for other athletes, by training to become coaches and active volunteers. They may also showcase their skills as speakers or delegates, providing important information on the benefits that the Special Olympics offer in their lives. They can even be trained to present their experiences, opinions and feelings in order to help spread the message of Special Olympics to the general public such as Anna Treppidou said, the 23 year old athlete who has participated in the European Games 2014, World Winter Games 2017 with the highest score a Bronze Medal in 100m run (European Games 2014):
“Running is a pleasure. Thanks Special Olympics”
Over the past two years, Special Olympics Cyprus has been actively involved in the European Committee of the Athlete Leadership Program. During the Special Olympics Europe / Eurasia Leadership Conference, which was held in Maribor, Slovenia, 24-27 October 2016, our Athlete Leaders also held their meeting.
The Athletes Leadership Program is offered in 67 countries. Special Olympics Cyprus participates in the Special Olympics Europe & Eurasia Athlete Leadership Program, with Nikos Limniotis a Cyprus Special Olympics athlete and Harry Newton a student from Pascal English School, Larnaca. Head of the program is Ms. Aristoula Alexandrou, a member of the board of directors of Special Olympics Cyprus.
During the conference, Nicos and Harry had the chance to interact with young people from other countries and exchange views on issues of common interest, as well as to further activate matters regarding the youth in their country. At the same time, they sent a message to delegates that our youth can make a difference, by building an inclusive society!