Monday, July 18, 2011

Do you volunteer?

Special Olympics would not exist today — and could not have been created — without the time, energy, commitment and enthusiasm of people just like you, thousands of individuals who choose to take a little time from busy schedules to make the world a better place.

Volunteers Needed. People like John Aronson (leaping) play as unified partners on teams that mix people with and without intellectual disabilities. Volunteer near you
Use Your Knowledge. Special Olympics athlete Erin Thompson of Virginia gets pre-race instructions from volunteer race official Bob McCormick. Volunteer as an official
Use Your Expertise. An international organization with many varied initiatives, Special Olympics needs volunteers with specialized training. The Healthy Athletes program, for example, puts health-care professionals to work providing free health screenings for our athletes. Learn about Healthy Athletes
Around the world, there is a growing hunger for civic engagement and belonging. It's about transforming lives, including your own. It’s about a spirit of giving and teamwork. It's about making your community and neighborhood (volunteer at your local Special Olympics program) a more welcoming and accepting place.
And it’s about creating lifelong friendships and a new way of thinking about others. Those are rewards of immeasurable value.
Building Strong Communities
For John and Lisa Aronson, Special Olympics has been a constant.  Both avid athletes, they got involved at an early age and met while volunteering.  Even after starting a family, they still make time to organize state tournaments and volunteer at the Games -- now bringing their 3-year-old twins along to cheer.
The Aronsons share a belief in the power of Special Olympics to change lives.  Lisa explains that Special Olympics "is so much more than sports.  It is about building confidence, taking away perceptions of a disability and focusing on abilities."
To them, Special Olympics is about building a strong community and forming bonds among people. 

"People become friends.  It starts on the playing courts, but then they go out to dinner or movies.  Just because someone has a ‘disability’ does not mean they don’t like the same things you do."
Finding the Right NicheSpecial Olympics salutes all of its committed volunteers, including Great Britain volunteer Susan Hughes-Payne. “I wanted to volunteer in my community, but I couldn’t find the right opportunity. Special Olympics offered me the chance to use the same skills I use on my job. It was the perfect fit for me to get involved and show my support. I feel like a member of the team and love the atmosphere and vibe.”
Be Part of the FamilyAround the world, millions of people volunteer, taking pride in knowing they’re providing athletes with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to experience the excitement, joy and personal fulfillment associated with sport training and competition. From the local coach who works with athletes every day, to the international organization holding World Games every two years, dedicated volunteers make Special Olympics happen. There is always something to do, with training, competitions and other events happening 365 days a year.
The Next Generation of VolunteersBy many accounts, interest and participation in public service, volunteerism and social entrepreneurship among young people, from middle-schoolers to college students, have risen dramatically over the last decade.

Today's teenagers and young adults, thanks to encouragement from their parents, an Internet revolution that makes the world feel smaller every day, and a growing number of service organizations in high schools, such as Special Olympics Project Unify, and on college campuses, such as SO College, are far more likely than their predecessors to seek out ways to give back and to shape the world they will inherit.

What You Can DoVolunteering with Special Olympics creates change that carries forth from our Programs and into the world. Whether you’re an individual or a member of a school, church, work, civic or other group; whether you can volunteer for just a few hours on a single day as a scorekeeper, or several hours a week, year-round, as a special events coordinator; there are volunteer opportunities for you.  
Click here to visit the Special Olympics web site and learn more.
Be gentle.

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