A long-time organiser of the Special Olympics in Mayo has spoken about the incredible contribution that volunteers and coaches throughout the county are making to building social inclusion.
Teresa Ward, a development officer with the Western Care Assocation, is recently returned from the Special Olympics national games in Limerick, where a team of 54 Mayo athletes and over 20 coaches took home a huge medal haul of 40 gold, 29 silver and 16 bronze over three days.
Ms Ward said she couldn’t count the huge contribution the athletes, coaches and volunteers involved in clubs in towns and villages across Mayo have made to promoting the games and the whole ethos behind Special Olympics so successfully in the county.
“The legacy of Ireland hosting the World Games in 2003 was really evident,” she described.
“Tremendous credit has to go to those wonderful people on the ground who are working tirelessly, week in and week out, to start clubs in their locality and then to keep them going, putting in the training, volunteering the hours. It can never be underestimated what they have done.”
Ms Ward said the whole ethos of Special Olympics is inclusion for all. In fact the motto for Team Connacht and the Mayo athletes is ‘together everyone achieves more’.
The huge number of people around Mayo who have supported the games have played an important part in putting that motto into practice and promoting social inclusion.
“This is a great education to the public about what this is all about.
It is about including everyone and having people of all abilities all working together towards a common goal. I think it is incredible to see that in action. It was absolutely electric in Limerick,” added Ms Ward.