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As an advocate, leader and community champion for individuals with special needs, I had the wonderful opportunity of serving Special Olympics Canada (SOC) as its GM. I managed the National Games program and was involved in all levels of governance across this nation enabling opportunities from playground to podium. I even created the SOCs first mission services program, which united all the provincial and territorial Chapters throughout Canada.

Perhaps one of the most powerful roles that I can bring to the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) in the role of Trustee is that of an advocate and as person who publicly and tirelessly fights for students in our special needs community. At the WECDSB, my goal is to ensure that all individuals are continuously accepted and welcomed as part of my 4-pt plan.

Advocacy for children and individuals with special needs can be vitally important for a number of reasons; it can draw attention to an injustice or unfairness or it can help those who are slipping through the system to be recognized, and receive access to special needs resources, and it can even unite people to fight for a common cause. Most importantly – it can help our children receive the services and/or benefits that he or she needs to realize his or her full potential.

About Special Olympics:

From its humble beginning with just 1,000 athletes on Soldier Field in Chicago in 1968, Special Olympics has become a global movement with more than 5 million athletes from 170 countries around the world. This year, Special Olympics celebrates its 50th anniversary, honouring the legacy of the past, while also looking to the future.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver had a vision to take a stand against the injustices faced by people with intellectual disabilities. Her solution was simple: give people with intellectual disabilities the chance to demonstrate their abilities, determination and value through sport. Alongside Ontario’s Dr. Frank Hayden, they created a movement of inclusion, where all individuals are accepted and welcomed.

Despite the incredible growth of Special Olympics as a movement, there are still two hundred million people with intellectual disabilities around the world who continue to face an uphill battle for acceptance. The fight against complacency, ignorance and stigma is still critical today. As we celebrate the strides Special Olympics has made, we still have much more work to do.