ALPs is the Special Olympics Athlete Leadership Programme
. This Programme allows athletes to explore opportunities other than taking part in sports training and competition and empowers athletes to take on new and challenging roles. Athletes are given the opportunity to be part of local, regional and national committees, be a spokesperson, coach, official, or volunteer.
Working with a mentor, people participating in the ALP's programme undertake training in order to give them the skills for the areas they are particularly interested in becoming involved in.
ALP's in Ireland
Here in Ireland, the Athlete Leadership programme is organised at local, regional and national level.
The first step is for athletes to become involved with a local ALP's club. From club level, athletes can nominate a representative(s) to their Regional Committee and the Regional Committee nominates their representatives to the National Committee.
The National ALP's Committee consists of 16 members, four nominated people from each Region - Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Northern Ireland. Members of the National ALP's Committee report back to their Region on developments at National level and they also nominate members to represent the athletes at other National committees, for example they nominate a representative to the Special Olympics Ireland Board of Directors and also to the Special Olympics Ireland National Programme and Development Committee.
Leinster athletes Paula Carroll, Brian Keogh and Aisling Beacom
receiving their ALP's Bronze Awards, December 2003
Training is offered to athletes on the ALP's programme in the various disciplines involved, for example training in public speaking or training as a volunteer for their local club. Many people involved in the ALP's programme take part in the annual Special Olympics Ireland Training School where they can undertake courses in sports coaching.
Special Olympics Ireland has recently introduced the Athlete Leadership Award Scheme. There are three levels to the Scheme - Bronze, Silver and Gold. The first level is the Bronze award where athletes, working with a mentor, learn how to work as a volunteer, as a committee member and also undertake some public speaking assignments. The Bronze award takes approximately 6 months to complete and on completion, athletes can then move on to the Silver and Gold awards.
HOW CAN ATHLETES BECOME INVOLVED WITH ALP's?
The first step is to appoint a mentor to work with the athlete. The mentor will work closely with the athlete during their training and assist them where necessary with any assignments or projects that they take on.
You should also make contact with your Regional office. Click here for a list of contact phone numbers
By keeping in contact with your Region you will find out about training courses and other activities that you might like to participate in. This will also enable you to make contact with other people participating in the ALP'S programme in your area.
Special Olympics athlete Anne Hickey from Carlow who is the Special Olympics Regional Messenger for Europe-Eurasia. In this role, Anne helps to spread the message of Special Olympics through various public speaking assignments and public relations activities.