Stephanie goes from athlete to ambassador at the Special Olympics

When Stephanie Alderton isn't working for the Mainstream and Me project, she is travelling across the country to participate in major sporting events. This year, she got the opportunity to take on a new role with the Special Olympics. 

Stephanie Alderton smiling at the camera

Stephanie has been to so many Special Olympics she has lost count. She is a swimmer and gymnast, and has a big collection of ribbons and medals.

At this year’s event in Adelaide, however, she was in an entirely new role. This year Stephanie was an official ambassador to the Special Olympics, helping to support some of the 1,000 athletes with an intellectual disability who competed.

“Being an ambassador I support the other athletes, help out, meet and greet with everyone, talk to the volunteers, and get everyone involved,” Stephanie says.

Stephanie gave a speech at the opening ceremony, and was also interviewed by former NSW Premier Mike Baird about what the Special Olympics meant to her.

“I even got the opportunity to appear at a VIP event at the closing ceremony.”

The Special Olympics is different from the Paralympics because anyone with intellectual disability can join in, have fun and compete.

As an experienced athlete, Stephanie had a lot of advice and support to offer the competitors in Adelaide. Her role as ambassador also helped with her own self-esteem.

“Sharing my story with [other athletes] makes me feel pretty accomplished. That makes me feel good,” Stephanie says.

The last time Stephanie competed in gymnastics was at the 2014 nationals in Melbourne. Unfortunately she has had to take stop competing after injuring her knee two years ago. But she still hopes to get back to competing soon.

“It’s just a matter of the recovery of my knee, but I can still be involved in some way,” she says.

Stephanie says her role as ambassador was an extraordinary experience for her, as it gave her the opportunity to be a big part of the action.

Links

Read more about Stephanie's role as a Mainstream and Me project worker in her blog

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Published 3 May 2018


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