Special Olympics Athlete Leadership Programs (ALP’s) allow athletes to explore opportunities in roles previously considered “non-traditional”. Such participation might come in the form of an athlete serving on the Board of Directors or local organizing committee; or it might find an athlete as a spokesperson, team captain, coach or official. Participation in Athlete Leadership Programs may be in addition to or in place of participation in traditional athlete roles.

Below are initiatives Special Olympics Kansas currently offers or will offer in 2019.

Athletes on State Board of Directors
— Special Olympics Kansas Board
— Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Kansas Executive Council
Global Messengers
Kansas Athlete Input Council
Part-Time Employees of Special Olympics Kansas

Special Olympics is about breaking down barriers that others thought were permanent. ALP’s are about breaking down our internal barriers that keep athletes from fully enjoying Special Olympics through self-directed, meaningful participation in virtually any aspect of the program. We are pushing for a more inclusive world and are proud to be part of the #inclusionrevolution.

To learn more about current Kansas programs click the dropdowns below. 

Athletes on State Board of Directors

Athletes are selected through an application process to serve a three year term on both the SOKS Board of Directors and the KSLETR Executive Council. Athletes on the board have full voting privileges and attend regular meetings to provide input and share information with the board.

Current athletes serving in these roles: 
Josh Alters, Topeka Shawnee, Special Olympics Kansas Board of Directors
David Hunter, Johnson County Parks and Recreation, Law Enforcement Torch Run for SOKS Executive Council

Global Messengers

The Global Messenger program is designed to teach Special Olympics athletes how to speak in public in front of a variety of audiences. The program pairs a Special Olympics athlete with a speech coach. Coaches learn how to help the athlete prepare a speech to address various types of public groups and corporate audiences on a variety of topics related to Special Olympics.

Participants must possess a willingness to speak in a public forum and feel comfortable in front of an audience. The ability to read is helpful but not mandatory. After completing the training course, Global Messengers are expected to go out into their community and speak to service groups, the corporate community and/or other organizations promoting Special Olympics.

Re-certification and new Global Messenger training sessions will be offered in fall 2019.

Athlete Input Council

The Kansas Athlete Input Council (KSAIC) is a way for Special Olympics Kansas leaders to be in touch with athlete interests and opinions on needed improvements, sports, competitions, coaching and other programs. It is a place for athletes to practice leadership skills, and a way for athletes to provide input and feedback to and from schools, group homes, day training programs and other athletes.

Members of the KSAIC are provided with leadership training opportunities and expected to hold positions on committees within or outside of SOKS. They are also expected to work together to facilitate training programs for other SOKS athletes and participate in fundraising efforts to sustain KSAIC programs.

The KSAIC Chairperson regularly attends SOKS Board of Directors meetings to provide feedback.

Each athlete on the KSAIC has a mentor who helps the athlete prepare for meetings and work on speaking and listening skills prior to meetings. Meetings are led by the chairperson and held using parliamentary procedure. Meetings are held monthly either in person or via conference call. 

The KSAIC began in 2018 thanks to a generous grant from Bank of America.

To learn more about the KSAIC click HERE.

Current athletes serving on the KS AIC: 
Chairperson – Josh Alters, Topeka Shawnee
Vice Chairperson – Savannah Koehn, Dodge City Dodgers
Secretary – Abbi Griswold, Sedgwick County Thundercats
Cody Pierce, New Hope Bulldogs
Cole Browne, Douglas County Jayhawks
Keith Hartner, Manhattan Sports Club

Athletes Employed By SOKS

Our belief is athletes are at the heart of everything we do so we need to include them at all levels of the organization.

In the summer of 2018 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics and the launched the next 50 years. We reflect on where we have been and where we want to go – to a future that is inclusive for all. In keeping this inclusive mindset we are changing the way we serve athletes by including them in all aspects of the organization.

In the summer of 2018 three athletes were hired in part-time roles to serve as Athlete Advocates. These athletes  worked side by side with members of the SOKS Headquarters staff to learn office skills, assist with event planning and fundraising efforts, and to take part in advocating for athletes across the state.

We are currently not employing athletes during construction of our headquarters office in Mission, KS. At the conclusion of construction we will have open positions again.