SPECIAL Olympics athlete Shonagh Clarke, of Invercargill, is preparing to join a group of athletes known as Global Messengers, set to become ambassadors for Special Olympics New Zealand.
Clarke, who competes with Special Olympics Southland in ten pin bowling and has been with the club for about 30 years, is one of six athletes who will take part in the Global Messenger training programme in New Zealand this year. The goal of the programme is to equip athletes with the skills to take up the role of ambassador for the organisation within their communities throughout the country.
Following the training, Clarke will join more than 70 Global Messengers in supporting and inspiring other athletes and promoting the Special Olympics in New Zealand.
“I think it is an awesome achievement and an honour to be selected,” she said.
The 51 year old has represented New Zealand twice, at the World Summer Games in the United States in 1991 and at the Asia Pacific Games in Australia in 2013.
“My favourite thing about Special Olympics is representing my province and country in my sport of ten pin bowling. I also like meeting new people around the world and gaining new friends nationally and internationally – and keeping fit.”
Clarke has also been athlete representative on the Special Olympics Southland committee for 10 years, is secretary of the club’s athletes’ committee, treasurer of her bowling league and works full-time as a mail clerk at SBS Bank.
Regional team leader for Special Olympics New Zealand Julia Sanson said being selected to become a Global Messenger was a huge achievement and an amazing opportunity for the athletes.
“As an athlete-driven organisation, it’s important our athletes have a voice in raising awareness and breaking down barriers which they and their peers often experience. They share their experiences and achievements gained through Special Olympics as a very strong and powerful voice of awareness and change.”
The class of 2018 started their leadership training in Wellington last week.
Special Olympics New Zealand is a year-round programme of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
For more information, go to www.specialolympics.org.nz