The appointment to be a global ambassador for Special Olympics Iowa facilitated the opportunity for a local athlete to see the nation’s capital for the first time.
Amanda Oswald of Onslow recently took the trip to learn how to best spread the word about the organization’s mission.
“You get to meet new people and make new friends,” she said about her favorite part of being appointed ambassador.
It is her third year as an ambassador. Oswald has enjoyed being able to travel and share her story with people and how she got started with the organization in 2003.
How that happens is a big part of what the ambassadors will be doing. Oswald said she and mentor Wendy Olinger, will be speaking together a little more. The goal according to Olinger, director of athlete initiatives at Special Olympics Iowa, is to promote inclusion.
There are already unified sports, allowing “athletes both with and without intellectual disabilities to play together.” The speaking strategy is just a further extension of that.
“The basic idea behind this training is to help empower athletes to not only talk about their experiences, but to advocate for themselves and their sports,” she said.
Programs within schools have already helped spread this message, Olinger said, and the new focus was just another way to go about it.
The goal of the program goes beyond sports. The hope is that it encourages people to pursue leadership opportunities outside of sports, like being able to find employment that is meaningful and have a voice in healthcare.
“This is just a way to help them find their voice outside of the sports arena,” she said.
Ways to go about doing that include following up if they don’t get a job after an interview to figure out how they could improve and get the employment that they want.
Oswald and Olinger will be sharing what they learned about unified leadership at the state conference, which is Nov. 8 and 9.
When not participating in training, Oswald got to see some of the sites, like the Washington Memorial, the White House and the Lincoln Memorial, She got to take in a Washington Nationals game, her first time at a major league game.