My daughter, Amanda Church, has been involved with Special Olympics for the past 14 years. During that time she has had the opportunity to compete at the state level in Aquatics and Basketball and has won numerous Gold Medals. Additionally, Amanda had the privilege of representing our country in Aquatics on Team USA at the Special Olympic World Games in Los Angeles in 2015 where she won a Silver and Bronze Medal. Competing in SOMA athletics has challenged Amanda to improve her skills and compete at a higher level. More importantly, it has demonstrated to her that she with drive and determination she can overcome her challenges and be successful.
More importantly, Special Olympics are a big part of Amanda’s life off the field of competition. In addition to being an athlete Amanda is also a Global Messenger. This program has provided her many opportunities to advocate for SOMA and represent the organization in the community. She has spoken at fundraising events for SOMA with Wal-Mart, Dunkin Donuts, and represented SOMA on local radio to raise awareness of the Jolly Jaunt. Additionally, she has had the opportunity to speak at many SOMA events including co-hosting the 2014 SOMA Summer Games Opening Ceremonies and the SOMA President’s Reception at Summer Games in 2008 among others.
I believe very strongly that Amanda’s participation in the SOMA Global Messenger program increased her confidence and communication skills and helped prepare her for life. Amanda currently lives independently at the LIFE program in Mashpee and works as a hostess at the 99 Restaurant in Falmouth, as well as, a receptionist in the LIFE office in Mashpee. I know her experiences with SOMA helped give her the confidence to live independently and be successful in her jobs. The SOMA Global Messenger program provides athletes the training an opportunity to build their self-esteem, confidence, and communication skills while demonstrating to the community the positive impact SOMA can have on people with disabilities.
I was pleased to see that SOMA has recently re-established the Athlete’s Advisory Council. As with the Global Messenger Program, this council allows athletes to provide feedback and ideas to continue to improve the overall experience for all athletes in SOMA. Amanda is participating as an athlete representative and I hope many other athletes do the same. Both of these programs allow participants the ability to increase their skills and grow outside of athletics. I am hopeful that more athletes take advantage of this opportunity.
Local Program Coordinator – Easton MA