Ben Haack served for 9 years on the Board of his local Program, Special Olympics Australia. We asked him to share his advice for young Athlete Leaders in Africa Region wanting to do the same.

By Ben Haack

The key challenge for an Athlete Leader on a Board is: how do I develop a voice? A voice that is powerful enough and clear enough so that all the big business, corporate leaders from various backgrounds sitting on my Board truly see people with disabilities as their customer, and not be focused on everything else?

This is a big challenge for any Athlete Leader to take on. How do you do it?

1. Be Willing To Learn

You need to be willing to learn about the people you are engaging with, including what sector they are from, and how that operates…


Through the creativity of virtual training and workshops with school principals and educators, the winning message of inclusion is growing in Rwanda


The logo for Special Olympics World Winter Games Kazan 2022 was revealed during an event at the Kazan Kremlin, where it was projected on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site

Visual identity presentation. Special Olympics Russia Winter Invitational Games. Kazan, February 5, 2021. Photo by KSENIYA BOGDANOVA

Kazan, Russia, 8 February 2021: On Friday 5 February, the Local Organizing Committee for the Special Olympics World Winter Games Kazan 2022 unveiled the global event’s logo during a ceremony at the Kazan Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The logo carries rich symbolism and was developed in part with a competition for designers across Russia. The visual identity is based on winner Artemiy Lebedev’s concept: Zilant — a mythical dragon creature and symbol of the city of Kazan — hugs a stylized tulip native to the Tatarstan region and serves as a representation of the Volga River. …


Shalel Tennah, Special Olympics Kenya athlete leader and multi-medallist, will share her story on a forthcoming UNICEF virtual panel.


80 athletes with intellectual disabilities now have ears open to the world around them, thanks to Starkey Hearing Technologies and Starkey Hearing Foundation

Of 80 athletes screened, 14 needed hearing aids and more had ear issues that were attended to. These athletes received treatment at the Starkey Hearing Institute.


Art Can Change the World — That’s the message of these young Athlete Leaders in Nigeria. Read their story here.

Tomiwa Adeyemo, a youth leader from Special Olympics Nigeria and Special Olympics Youth Innovation Grant recipient, started Art for All, an inclusive art program to share the message of inclusion in her community. In partnership with Socially Africa, Art for All brought together a group of 16 inclusive individuals to participate in a 6-week art training program. The project used art as a tool to build friendships, create support systems, develop talents, and build confidence.

At the end of the…


On 20–21 September 2019, Special Olympics Kenya and Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology hosted a symposium on the interdisciplinary approach to health and vision care for individuals with intellectual disabilities, funded by Optometry Giving Sight.

The aims of this training included increasing knowledge of the medical community on the most common health and vision issues faced by individuals with intellectual disabilities and to help establish a health ‘supply chain’, including triage and primary health care collaboration.

Over 120 students and lecturers from Masinde Muliro University and the Kenya Medical Training College participated in the didactic and practical training.

In addition, eleven stakeholders from the health and education sectors took part in an inclusive health stakeholder meeting in Nairobi. Participants included representatives from:

  • UNICEF,
  • Kenya’s Ministry of Health,
  • Kenya’s Ministry of Education,
  • the Kenya National Health…

7 countries from Africa Region will send competing teams to the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2022 in Kazan, Russia

Special Olympics teams from Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa will join over 2,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 108 nations as they compete in seven sports in January 2022 in Kazan, Russia.

By creating an atmosphere of equality, unity, youth, and pride through sports, Special Olympics World Winter Games 2022 will educate the public, change perceptions, challenge stereotypes, and address barriers to inclusion.

In a typical year, Special Olympics holds over 100,000 competition events in 32 Olympic-style sports for over six million athletes and Unified partners in over 190 countries and territories. During…


In one of the world’s smallest countries, a young coach with a big heart is bringing the spirit of competition to athletes with intellectual disabilities.


With so many marginalized people struggling to survive their country’s lock down barriers, Special Olympics programs have been searching for ways to help their athletes and family members.

Special Olympics Senegal athlete leaders, parents, coaches and volunteers answered their government’s call for urgent blood donations to assist their strained hospitals and health care workers in the capital city, Dakar.

All around Africa Region, Special Olympics athletes and partners are spreading messages of hope and inspiration.

In support, we witnessed clinical directors sharing COVID-19 health information to families in Special Olympics Mauritius, Youth Leaders sharing messages of support for inclusion on their social media in Special Olympics Zimbabwe, and Programs working with governments to include people with intellectual disabilities in their urgent delivery of food parcels in Special Olympics Guinea-Bissau, Special Olympics South Africa and Special Olympics Zambia. Read more here on some of these diverse efforts.

  • Special Olympics Botswana
  • Special Olympics Congo
  • Special Olympics Guinea Bissau
  • Special Olympics Kenya

Special Olympics Africa Region

Revealing the champion inside all of us, every day around the world and in Africa! Sports and health programming for people with intellectual disabilities.

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