Special Olympics Michigan would not exist today, nor be as successful as it is, without the help of the thousands of people who dedicate their time, energy, and especially their enthusiasm to making the world a more accepting place.
Being a volunteer is all about finding what moves you, and the right opportunity to get involved. That opportunity starts here. Your first step is to know what roles you can be a part of. Whether you want to volunteer for a single day's event, several hours a week, or year-round, we have a place for you.
Sign-up to VolunteerClick here to fill out our online volunteer form
Be a Local/Area Volunteer
There are a variety of volunteer opportunities in your local community. You can volunteer at a fundraiser or local competition, or become a coach. Learn more about getting involved in your local area.
State Event Volunteer
State-level events are always in need of individuals and groups to help with various jobs, including serving food, keeping score, officiating, and many others. For a list of upcoming state-level events, visit our Events Homepage.
Unified sports partners Special Olympics atheltes on teh same team with people who do not have an intellectual disability, such as a family member, friend or volunteer. To find out more visit Unified Sports team
The Young Athletes Program is an innovative sports play program for children with intellectual disabilities, designed to introduce them to the world of sports prior to Special Olympics eligibility at age 8. To find out more visit Young Athletes™ Program.
"Ten Commandments" - a Quick Overview on
Communicating with Athletes
Communicating with a Special Olympics athlete can be intimidating for a first-time volunteer. They may feel like they are going to do something "wrong" or inappropriate or that they and the athlete won't be able to communicate effectively. The "Ten Commandments" is a very basic set of suggestions on interacting with someone with a disability. Available as a short video or as a paper hand-out, these suggestions are a very quick way to orientate new volunteers on this topic.
- 1. Speak directly rather than through a companion or sign language interpreter who may be present.
- 2. Offer to shake hands when introduced. People with limited hand use or an artificial limb can usually shake hands and offering the left hand is acceptable greeting.
- 3. Always identify yourself and others who may be with you when meeting someone with a visual disability. When conversing in a group, remember to identify the person to whom you are speaking. When dining with a friend, who has a visual disability, ask if you can describe what is on his or her plate. If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen or ask for instructions.
- 4. Treat adults as adults. Address people with disabilities by their first names only when extending the same familiarity to all others.
- 5. Never patronize people in wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder. Do not lean against or place your hand on someone's wheelchair. Bear in mind that people with disabilities treat their chairs as extensions of their bodies.
- 6. Listen attentively when talking with people who have difficulty speaking and wait for them to finish. If necessary, ask short questions that require short answers, or a nod of the head. Never pretend to understand; instead repeat what you have understood and allow the person to respond.
- 7. Place yourself at eye level when speaking with someone in a wheelchair or on crutches.
- 8. Tap a person who has a hearing disability on the shoulder or wave your hand to get his or her attention. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly, and expressively to establish if the person can read your lips. If so, try to face the light source and keep hands and food away from your mouth when speaking.
- 9. If a person is wearing a hearing aid, don't assume that they have the ability to discriminate your speaking voice. Never shout at a person. Just speak in a normal tone of voice.
- 10. Relax. Don't be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions such as "See you Later" or "Did you hear about this?" that seem to relate to a person's disability.
Compiled by Sandra S. Block, O.D., M.Ed., Illinois College of Optometry; Global Clinical Advisor - Special Olympics Healthy Athletes®