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 The crowd at the Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremonies
The crowd at the 2003 Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremonies in Croke Park, Dublin , Ireland.
Wikimedia Commons
The important thing is to enter this environment with a clear objective of observing and developing, emotionally and personally.

“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”

- The Athlete's Oath

December 3rd was International Day of Persons with Disabilities by the United Nations. This day was established as an initiative to include persons with disability in all aspects of development of the community.

Special Olympics Canada is an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through positive sports. Al-Rahim Habib, an SFU student is finishing his B.Sc. in Health Sciences this semester, is currently volunteering for Special Olympics BC, a chapter of Special Olympics Canada.  His goal is to one day become a medical doctor.

This is what he had to say about his volunteering experience.

What interested you about Special Olympics?

I was interested in volunteering because I felt as though this was an area of service I had never been able to experience before.  Special Olympics offered a unique opportunity to further develop the skills I had gained in other positions and learning environments.

What is a typical day for you?

On my first day, I remember feeling apprehensive as I was entering an unfamiliar environment. However, I discovered that the people and atmosphere was very open and welcoming – the athletes were warm, jovial, and always welcoming to new team members. There was little restraint, shyness or segregation between everyone.

I  enjoyed working there because I saw a side of life that I had not seen before. The energy and warm attitude of the team would ease the most aggravating of days ; but most of all, I see people playing a sport for the fun of it, regardless of obstacles.

What is your advice for someone looking to volunteer with a major in Health Sciences?

If you are looking at your options for volunteering, I would say this is a great opportunity to learn and grow – not only career-wise, but as a person.

If you’re considering getting involved in with this organization, I suggest you enter it with an open mind. To really succeed and get the most out of your experience, you have to be prepared to let go of your ego. Also, forget any stereotypes you may have heard about mental or physical disability.

The important thing is to enter this environment with a clear objective of observing and developing, emotionally and personally. If you do that, you will be sure to gain adept interpersonal skills that’ll be invaluable for everyday communication. I’d also say this position makes you more empathetic and compassionate.

With all that in mind, I am pretty sure I’ve learnt more from the athletes than they have from me.

To learn more about how you can volunteer for Special Olympics, contact Paul Colvin at in Burnaby or click here to find a SOBC local coordinator near you.

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