Special Olympics Athlete Leadership empowers athletes to explore opportunities for greater participation in our movement. Through Athlete Leadership, athletes can serve as:

  • Coaches
  • Officials
  • Spokespeople
  • Board members
  • Committee members

Opportunities in

Athlete Congress

Athlete Congress includes Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) athletes who are selected to represent all athletes of SONJ. The athletes are empowered to voice their opinions and recommend a course of action on a variety of facets of the year-round sports training and athletic competition program.

Meet Our Athlete Congress

Athlete Congress Member Application 

Athlete Input Councils

Athlete Input Councils (AIC) are an open forum for athletes to share their input on key topics, games and events. AICs meet on a regular basis and recommend new ideas to their local County Management Team to provide valuable feedback on events and competitions held at the area or state level.

Download the Athlete Input Council information sheet to learn more about who qualifies to participate and how to register!

Athlete Curriculum

The content from Athlete University is now referred to as SOI’s curriculum for athlete leadership. These courses include topics such leadership, governance and technology. Athletes completing these courses will benefit physically, mentally and socially as a result of being educated in an array of topics that directly relate to their lives and their interests.

Athletes as Volunteers, Coaches and Officials

It is a common sight to see our athletes serving as volunteers at events, both competition and fundraisers. Some have even completed the necessary training and obtained the experience to become coaches and officials, serving in these roles at the state, national and world levels.

Sargent Shriver Global Messengers

Global Messengers are athletes trained in public speaking who then help spread the message and vision of the Movement and the benefits they have gained by participating in Special Olympics. Global Messengers have proven to be the Movement’s most effective spokespeople.

Garden State Champions Lions Club

The Garden State Champions Lions Club is an athlete led Lions Club. Lions is a global service organization with a long standing partnership with Special Olympics. Beginning with Opening Eyes, the partnership has expanded to include Unified Sports, Youth Activation, and Athlete Leadership. Many of the service opportunities and projects that the Club conducts are centered around Special Olympics New Jersey events and initiatives. The Garden State Champions Lions Club is an opportunity for athletes to be leaders among their peers, demonstrate community involvement, and support Special Olympics New Jersey.


If you are interested in learning more about any of these Athlete Leadership opportunities, please contact Joanne Monaco, at jdm@sonj.org.