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If we want a more inclusive organization and accepting world, Special Olympics athletes must be allowed to contribute in ways beyond the sports field. One of the most powerful ways we do this is through Athlete Leadership, which creates opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to develop and demonstrate their abilities in leadership roles.
Development of athlete leaders is supported by the Special Olympics Unified Leadership approach. Building from sport, such an approach teaches leaders of all abilities to value and learn from each other and to create environments where people with intellectual disabilities succeed in meaningful jobs and roles.
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The Leadership & Skills curriculum is designed to provide athletes with leadership training as well as personal and professional development that they can apply to leadership roles in their Program, community and workplace.
In order to truly become a movement led by athletes they must be given the opportunity to share their abilities, experiences and knowledge. Not only are we providing opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities but having athletes in leadership roles improves the quality of the programming and helps us meet our strategic goals as an organization.

There are many ways Programs can engage athletes in leadership roles. Programs can offer training sessions from the leadership and skills curriculum, create opportunities for athletes to lead in health, sport, events, communication, youth and schools and athlete representative roles. More specifically this could be forming a local Athlete Input Council, appointing athlete leader on national and state games committees, or engaging athlete leaders to serve in spokesperson roles. For more information on how to get started follow the links above in Unified Leadership, Leadership & Skills Training, and Meet Athlete Leaders.