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Helpful Hints About Volunteering

  • Special Olympics Oregon should offer a rewarding experience for everyone whether they are an athlete, volunteer, or family member.  To ensure a positive experience, the following suggestions and ideas should be observed:
  • Remember, people with and without intellectual disabilities are more alike than different.  Special Olympics athletes, like everyone else, want to have fun and make friends!
  • Many people ask “How do I treat a Special Olympics athlete?” The answer: Act the same way you would toward any other person of that same age. Be yourself!
  • Many people with intellectual disabilities have delayed language development. It is fine to ask athletes to repeat themselves or to ask their friend/coach to let you know what he/she is saying.
  • Enjoy the interactions that are part of the Special Olympics experience, but don’t be afraid to establish limits.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask coaches or other volunteers if you are unsure about something (e.g., appropriate behavior, problems occurring). 
  • Recognize and praise individual efforts and overall performance, regardless of place finish. Congratulations are encouraged for all of the competitors (e.g., “high five”, pat on the back, hearty handshake, a hug if initiated by the athlete).
  • Children and adults compete in Special Olympics. Be sensitive to the age group with whom you are working. “Kids” maybe okay for children, but not adults. Using the term “athlete” is appropriate for all.
  • Have a professional attitude toward your assignment. Be courteous and cooperative with other volunteers.
  • Above all, relax and enjoy yourself!



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