‘They share the same joy, frustration, and disappointment as us. They put in the same effort or maybe even more. There were many things that they do better. They include rather than exclude. They embrace rather than blame. They bring out the best in people, and not the worst.’
Nicholas Leong volunteered as a photographer with Special Olympics in 2019 for the World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi. Working with Special Olympics was personal for him as his daughter, Natalie, also has a rare condition called Aicardi. Being a communications specialist, Nicholas’ job revolves around trying to change people’s mindsets. He met the best teachers during his trip – Special Olympics athletes who face the challenge of convincing people to be more inclusive since they were born.
Nicholas went as a volunteer hoping to contribute to the movement. However, he came back with much more than memories. He returned inspired and in awe. Read his life-changing experience here.
‘People who watch our games are sometimes surprised to learn that our team consists of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities. Every member of the team is treated equally and without prejudice, and it is my wish that the rest of our community will do so too.’
Joie Tan was out of her comfort zone when she first signed up as a volunteer with Special Olympics Singapore. But the experience has been absolutely rewarding. Initially, she did not know what to expect, but she was welcomed with open arms and hearts. All the athletes were very supportive and gave her the space to learn and grow.
She believes that when everyone gives and takes, it builds a safe learning environment, which in turn, helps the team to grow. Here’s more on her story.