By Andrea Phillips
HUNDREDS OF dedicated Special Olympics volunteers have been helping Australians with intellectual disability to play sport since 1976.
Now, for the first time, grant funding will enable Special Olympics Australia to equip its volunteers with tailor-made interactive online training and support.
Grants from the Sherry Hogan Foundation and Sport Australia’s Capability Building Grant Program will fund program development for new and existing Special Olympics Australia volunteer coaches and administrators.
The assistance will help Special Olympics Australia as it rebuilds its volunteer base in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, with many volunteers in a vulnerable age group that makes them reluctant to go to public training venues while infection risk continues.
The training program will prepare new volunteers for their vital roles.
Yvonne Snell, Special Olympics Australia’s National Sports Partnerships Manager, said: “People with intellectual disabilities and autism have unique needs and challenges, and we need volunteers who can enhance athletes’ experience, develop their skills, and contribute to their overall wellbeing.”
- Yvonne Snell, Special Olympics Australia’s
National Sports Partnerships Manager
Importantly, volunteers will be guided through their responsibilities for safeguarding the athletes they work with, who are either children or vulnerable adults.
The shift to online training will make it quicker and easier for Special Olympics Australia to monitor volunteers’ course completion and regulatory compliance before they work with athletes.
It will also help volunteers understand the unique competition structure, in which athletes compete with others of similar ability in equitable divisions.
This means more athletes can participate, and at a suitable level.
Athletes, their parents and carers, and current volunteers will be part of a consultation process to agree the program content.
“This program will result in more Special Olympics athletes having a better experience playing sport – regardless of their ability level,” Snell said.
Special Olympics Australia strives to ensure that everyone living with an intellectual disability can participate in sport. We provide: